Splish-Splash: Daily Use of Water
This unit is designed to facilitate students' understanding of daily water use through reading stories from Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Kenya (East Africa) and Ghana (West Africa). As a product of this unit, each student will make a book comparing daily uses of water in America, Kenya, and Ghana. An overall goal is to develop students' understanding of the similarities and differences in water use among the people of Kenya, Ghana, and their own community.
Two to three weeks, depending on abilities and skills of the students
Language arts: reading, writing
1–2 (Can be adapted to Intermediate Grades 3–5)
1. Why is water valuable?
2. How does your daily use of water influence the way you live?
Reading selections: “Splish-Splash Stories about Daily Use of Water in Kenya"(PDF or RTF) , “Splish-Splash Stories about Daily Use of Water in Ghana"(PDF or RTF) (copies needed for teacher and students)
Images from Kenya: KE0101, KE0210, KE0226, KE0229, KE0307, and KE0335
Images from Ghana: GH0101, GH0203, , GH0329, GH0412, GH0418, GH0423, GH0424, GH0622, GH0624, GH0726
Photo Narratives for Daily Use of Water in Kenya (PDF or RTF)
Photo Narratives for Daily Use of Water in Ghana (PDF or RTF)
Venn Diagram (PDF or RTF)
Writing Evaluation Rubric (PDF or RTF)
Reading Evaluation Rubric (PDF or RTF)
Maps and globes
Digital image software (optional)
Writing booklets for students
Language Arts Standard 1:
Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the writing process
Benchmark—Prewriting: Uses prewriting strategies to plan written work
Benchmark—Drafting and revising: Uses strategies to draft and revise written work
Benchmark—Editing and publishing: Uses strategies to edit and publish written work. Evaluates own and others' writing
Benchmark—Dictates or writes with a logical sequence of events
Benchmark—Dictates or writes detailed descriptions of familiar persons, places, objects, or experiences
Language Arts Standard 2:
Demonstrates competence in the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing
Benchmark—Uses general, frequently used words to convey basic ideas
Language Arts Standard 3:
Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions
Benchmark—Forms letters in print and spaces words and sentences
Benchmark—Uses complete sentences in written compositions
Benchmark—Uses nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in written compositions
Benchmark—Uses conventions of spelling, capitalization, and punctuation in written compositions
Language Arts Standard 4:
Gathers and uses information for research purposes
Benchmark—Generates questions about topics of personal interest
Benchmark—Uses books to gather information for research topics
Language Arts Standard 5:
Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the reading process
Benchmark—Uses picture clues and picture captions to aid comprehension and to make predictions about content
Benchmark—Decodes unknown words using basic elements of phonetic analysis
Benchmark—Uses self-correction strategies
Benchmark—Reads aloud familiar stories and passages with attention to rhythm, flow, and meter, prose and difficulty of the material
Language Arts Standard 7:
Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of informational texts
Benchmark—Applies reading skills and strategies to a variety of informational books
Benchmark—Summarizes information found in texts
Benchmark—Relates new information to prior knowledge
Language Arts Standard 8:
Demonstrates competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning
Benchmark—Makes contributions in class and group discussions
Benchmark—Asks and responds to questions
Benchmark—Follows rules of conversation (e.g., takes turns, raises hand to speak, stays on
topic, focuses attention on speaker)
National Science Education Standards
Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
- Learn about the lives of Peace Corps Volunteers in Kenya and Ghana.
- Understand the similarities and differences relating to daily uses of water resources.
- Develop enduring understandings of how water is a valued resource for life.
Please note: You may choose to use images and stories either from both Kenya and Ghana or from just one African country, depending on curricular goals and time available. If the geography units are taught before or in conjunction with this unit, the activities for Day 1will simply be review.
As a product of this unit, each of the students will make a book comparing daily uses of water in America, Kenya, and Ghana. Each time they study a new country, they will write a narrative and draw illustrations. The narratives are revised and edited. This process will take place throughout the unit.
Optional: Before beginning the unit , send a letter home to parents communicating information about the Splish-Splash learning unit, including a summary of goals and activities. Include the Water in Africa website URL. Encourage parents to connect to this unit on the Peace Corps website at home or at the local public library. Communicate with your local public library about creating an educational link to the Water in Africa website as a resource for parents and students in the class.
1. Write "Daily Use of Water" on the blackboard and ask the students what they think this means. Talk with the students about their daily uses of water and generate a list of their experiences. Write the list on large chart paper and keep it hanging in the classroom as a reference for the students. Explain that they will be learning about how people in the African countries of Kenya and Ghana use water each day in their communities and homes, and will be comparing it with their own use.
2. Using the list the class generated, have the students start on the product they will be making—a book about daily use of water. Have them write or dictate stories and draw pictures about how water is used in their own daily lives and in their communities. Help the students revise and edit their work.
(Note: If you have already taught “Access to Water" unit, there is no need to teach this step.)
Explain to students that they will be learning about ways people in countries of Africa use water in their communities and homes. Tell them that they will be seeing photos and reading stories from Peace Corps Volunteers in the countries of Ghana and Kenya. Write “Peace Corps Volunteers" on the board and ask the students what those words mean. Help students define each of the words individually and their meaning together. The goal is that the students understand that the United States has an organization called the Peace Corps, which sends volunteers to countries around the world to help others and learn from them.
1. Using a political world map and globe, show the class the location of your own community, country, and continent. Have a few students take turns showing the class the location of your community, country, and continent. This establishes an understanding of their place in the world. Write the name of your community, country, and continent on the board for students to reread.
2. Show the students the location of the continent of Africa. Show them Kenya, in the region called East Africa, and Ghana, in the region called West Africa. Have a few students take turns showing the location of these countries and naming the regions of Africa in which each is located. Write the names of the two countries and the continent of Africa on the board for students to reread.
Prior to class: Prepare the images from Kenya and Ghana by saving the pages or downloading the images to your computer. Use a Web browser or digital image software to show them to your class.
Print the images from Kenya from your browser or print each separately from your saved collection and put them in a three ring binder notebook with the accompanying Kenya narrative (PDF or RTF). Make this available for students to use on their own after the initial introduction on the computer.
1. With the whole class or with small groups gathered around the computer, show the students the set of Kenya images that show daily use of water: KE0101, KE0210, KE0226, KE0229, KE0307, and KE0335. As each image is shown, ask the students to describe what they see. Then read or have a student read the narrative descriptions for each photo. Take time to have the students ask questions and make comments about the images. Use prompting questions such as:
How are these people in Kenya using their water in their daily life?
How are their uses of water similar to, and different from, the way you use water each day?
What is interesting about the way they use their water each day?
2. Write down and define any words that are not familiar to the students. This can be their vocabulary list for the week. Write the words on chart paper or on the board for students to see throughout the unit.
Review vocabulary from the unit by having students play games such as memory or concentration, matching up definitions with vocabulary words. For informal assessment, repeat the sequence of photos and ask the students to reread the captions and then give an accurate description about each of the images. Help them to describe orally the content of the images in their own words with accuracy, using descriptive language.
1. Read aloud the “Daily Use of Water" stories of Patrick Campbell, Drew Denzin, and Bryce Sitter (from Ways With Water: Stories from Kenya. Identify unfamiliar words, then define them and add them to the vocabulary list. Give each student copies of the stories. You may choose to edit or revise sentences, vocabulary, and story length to accommodate students' reading skills.
2. Provide reading instruction to students. Check students' comprehension by having them restate what they have read, relate what they have read to their own experiences, and share their own ideas, reflections and responses about what they have learned from reading.
3. Have students dictate the ways the Kenyan communities use water, how often it is available, and how that availability affects the Kenyans' daily life. Write what students say on large chart paper and hang it in the classroom.
1. Review the vocabulary learned to date. Have students take turns reading the charts about daily use of water that are hanging around the room.
2. Have the “Daily Use of Water stories from Kenya" available in the classroom library for students to independently reread and practice reading with one another beyond instructional reading times.
3. Have students write a narrative and draw pictures from their understanding of water use in the Kenyan communities they learned about though the photos and stories. Point out the charts that are hanging around the room and tell students that they may use these for reference. These narratives will be revised, edited, and published in the book they are making about daily water usage.
4. Have each student share his or her writing with the whole class and then add the writing to his or her book about daily use of water. Provide opportunities for questions/comments from classmates.
1. Review the locations of Kenya and Ghana on a map.
2. Explain that the students will begin to study daily use of water in Ghana. Follow the procedures from Days 4 through 7, using the images of Ghana(GH0101, GH0203, GH0329, GH0412, GH0418, GH0423, GH0424, GH0622, GH0624, and GH0726).
3. Use the "Daily Use of Water" stories of Nell Todd, Amy Wiedemann, and Molly Campbell from "Ways With Water: Stories from Ghana."
1. Explain to the students that they will identify similarities and differences between water access in the communities they've studied in Kenya, in Ghana, and in their own communities in the United States.
2. Draw a three-ring Venn diagram on the chalkboard with each circle labeled for a country. Explain how to use it by beginning a discussion of the daily uses of water that they have read about and written about in the past two weeks. When students mention an activity from one country, ask them whether it is similar to or different from what is done in the other two countries. Write the activity in the correct area of the Venn diagram. Demonstrate one or two activities in this manner.
3. Break the class into groups of two or three and distribute copies of the Venn diagram. Give the students 15–20 minutes to record as many similarities and differences in water use as possible. Move around to mentor the students in their work. For primary students, an option is to have parent volunteers or have older, intermediate students assist each group. Provide copies of the reading booklets for each group for reference. Have printed copies of the country images and image narratives available for reference also.
4. Bring the whole class together in front of a writing board with the three-ring Venn diagram on it. Have each group share their answers while you record them onto the large Venn diagram on the board.
5. Collect the Venn diagrams for assessment purposes and to be used by the groups when they complete their writing assignment. Assess their Venn diagrams for number of ideas and accuracy of content.
1. Distribute the Venn diagrams the students completed the previous day. Ask the students what they can tell about daily use of water in these communities by looking at their diagrams.
2. Elicit statements and write them down as samples for the students; for example: “People in our community, in Kenya, and in Ghana all wash their clothes. People in some communities in Kenya and Ghana wash their clothes in buckets of water because they don't have much water."
3. Have students work with a partner to write more about similarities and differences. If possible, have parent volunteers or intermediate grades students assist the pairs of students. This will be the last part of the book on daily use of water.
4. Tell each student to draw a picture to illustrate his or her comparison page.
1. Give the students all the pages they have written about daily use of water. Help them put them in order. Tell them to think of a title for their books, and then help them make a cover that includes the title and themselves as author.
2. Help each of the children bind their books.
3. Have students read their books aloud to each other. Arrange for them to read them to other audiences in the school, home, and community.
Use the reading rubric (PDF or RTF) that is provided to assess your students' ability, or alternatively, use the methods that are recommended by your school or district.
Use the writing rubric (PDF or RTF) that is provided to assess your students' ability, or alternatively, use the methods that are recommended by your school or district.
1. Ways with Water Classroom Library: Identify and locate additional reading for a classroom library, to be used along with the Ways With Water lessons. Books about geography and water and the countries of Kenya and Ghana will give further context to students' cultural and geographic understanding of these places.
2. Art Lessons: Using the visual images and descriptive narratives in the reading booklets of the Ways With Water unit, have students use crayons, watercolors, markers, and colored pencils to make their own illustrations.
3. Presentations: Have the class present their books, or parts from them, to other classes in the school. Students can choose to show images from the website that they think are relevant to their books.
About the Author
Kristi Rennebohm Franz is a primary teacher of a multi-age class at Sunnyside Elementary School in Pullman, Washington. She has also taught in Nairobi, Kenya, and has traveled to West and South Africa. She wrote the unit "Daily Use of Water" combining her interests in Africa and in environmental and community issues of water-resources education. She says this about her unit: "The 'Daily Use of Water' unit was piloted in my primary classroom but is also applicable to intermediate classrooms. My class especially liked the images! These are such powerful conveyors of information and experiences to children. The students had lots of comments. I downloaded the images into a folder on my computer desktop so it was easy to view them in graphic converter software. I also liked having the narratives in a document so we didn't have to read the captions from the computer screen—the children could take turns reading them because they were in a larger font than on the screen. The class also liked having the reading booklets for learning to read and for rereading with classmates who were reading partners.