Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
perspective across the curriculum

Water for life

Year level: F-2

Students investigate why an adequate water supply is vital for people's health and wellbeing. They explore the difficulties some people in the world face in obtaining enough water, in order to deepen their understanding of why water is a precious resource for everyone.

A girl waters her family vegetable plot, helping to produce a healthy crop and vital nutrition in Sekong, Laos.

A girl waters her family vegetable plot, helping to produce a healthy crop and vital nutrition in Sekong, Laos. Photo by Jim Holmes for AusAID

Identity and cultural diversity, Social justice and human rights, Sustainable futures

Australian Curriculum links

Learning areas



Identify some features of texts including events and characters and retell events from a text (ACELT1578)

Year 1

Engage in conversations and discussions, using active listening behaviours, showing interest and contributing ideas, information and questions (ACELY1656)

Year 2

Rehearse and deliver short presentations on familiar and new topics (ACELY1667)



Living things have basic needs, including food and water (ACSSU002)

Year 1

People use science in their daily lives, including when caring for their environment and living things (ACSHE022)

Through discussion, compare observations with predictions (ACSIS212)

Year 2

Earth's resources, including water, are used in a variety of ways (ACSSU032)



Use direct and indirect comparisons to decide which is longer, heavier or holds more, and explain reasoning in everyday language (ACMMG006)

Year 1

Represent data with objects and drawings where one object or drawing represents one data value. Describe the displays (ACMSP263)

Year 2

Create displays of data using lists, tables and picture graphs and interpret them (ACMSP050)

General capabilities

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Intercultural understanding

Cross-curriculum priorities

  • Sustainability

Activity 1: Ways we use water

Students explore ways we use water in our daily lives, map water sources and estimate quantities of water. They consider the challenges we would face if we did not have an adequate water supply.


  • 1-litre container and variety of other containers (1-litre capacity or more, not be marked with volumes.)
  • water
  • computer access
  • drawing materials or ICT drawing software
  • consequences chart

ways you have used water today (at home before school, and at school).

Expand the list to include ways others in the family use water in and around the home.

Role-play some activities that use water, for others to guess.

Draw a simple map or plan of a home and garden using paper or ICT.

Add arrows, labels and pictures to show how we use water in and around the home, where it comes from and how waste is removed.

Discuss when and how often water is used in these ways (every day, particular or different times of the day, different seasons).

Identify the three most frequent ways we use water at home.

Identify the three ways that most water is used at home.

Estimate and check:
Examine a 1-litre bottle or jug. Take turns pouring water into a variety of other containers. Stop when you think you have put in the same amount as you have in the 1-litre container.
Check estimates by pouring the water into the 1-litre container. Did you pour more? Less? The same amount?


  • What could you do with 1 litre of water?
  • What do you need less than 1 litre of water to do?
  • What do you need more than 1 litre of water to do?

Estimate and check the amount of water used for the three activities that use most water.

Create a pictorial chart to summarise the amount of water used for each.

Rank the activities according to the amount of water used.

Imagine we wake up one day and there is no water in our taps. Create a consequences chart to explore how this would affect us.
Discuss: Which uses of water are most important? Why? 

Activity 2: Where does our water come from?

Students investigate our water supply using an interactive resource to explore how rainwater is collected, stored and piped to our homes. They compare our access to safe water with people in other countries by examining photos.


Discuss and predict
: Where does the water in our taps come from? How does it get to us?

Complete the jigsaw puzzles in the digital curriculum resource L19: Where does tap water come from? [includes spoken instructions] to continue exploring these questions. Begin with city or country; whichever is the most appropriate.

Draw and label your own diagram, on paper or using a drawing program on your computer, to show how water gets to your taps at home.

Why is it important to have clean, fresh water to drink? Is all water safe to use? Why or why not?

View these photos of collecting water in other countries.
Describe what you can see in each photo. 

In low rainfall Rajasthan, India, villagers depend on tube wells for their water.Water tanks provide a clean supply of water for people living in Kiribati.In Lombok, Indonesia, a woman pours clean water from the central source into her covered storage container.
A woman carries heavy buckets of water from a standpipe to her home near Sekong, Laos.In a health clinic in Vietnam, water is pumped into a storage tank and distributed by pipes using the water pressure.Dao Van Manh in Vietnam has installed a sand filter to clean his stored water.

View these photos of people in other countries using water.
Describe what each photo shows.

Clean running water in homes improves health and reduces work in Vietnam.Coastal families fish for their own food and for extra to sell at the market in Vanimo, Papua New Guinea.A woman spends all day bent over and standing in water to plant rice seedlings in a paddy field in Laos.
Children swim in the Mantangai River in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.A woman washes her clothes near her home in Kampala, Uganda. Waste water flows away in the open drain.Peter Bua has a shower at a new water point in Nusa Barooka village, Solomon Islands.
A girl waters her family vegetable plot, helping to produce a healthy crop and vital nutrition in Sekong, Laos.In a crowded urban area of Jakarta, Indonesia, young boys use tank water to stay healthy and clean.Farmers are trained to produce more and better quality fish and prawns in their aquaculture ponds in Aceh, Indonesia.

 Discuss specific questions as appropriate for the different images, for example:

  • How/where do these people get their water? You could create labelled illustrations to reinforce key vocabulary, such as 'well' and 'pump'.
  • How would their water use and needs be the same as/different from ours? Consider the purposes for using water and the amount of water required.
  • How easy or difficult might it be for these people to get as much water as they need? It must be water that is safe to drink and enough water for other uses.
  • What do the pictures tell us about people's lifestyles: for example, daily activities and the kinds of goods, services and technology people might or might not have?

Createweb map for one of the photos, on paper or using your favourite mind-mapping software. Small groups could each focus on a different photo.
Share mind maps as a class.

Think about and list questions you would like to ask someone in one of the photos.

Imagine questions they might ask you about water where you live. What aspects of our water access/use might seem surprising or interesting to people from other cultures? 

Activity 3: Carrying water

Students explore the impact on people's lives of having to collect and carry water.


  • 1-litre container
  • other containers such as ice-cream tubs or 2-litre milk or juice bottles
  • bucket
  • water

Examine a 1-litre container.
List the things you could do with this amount of water.

Estimate and check how much water a bucket holds.
Estimate and check how long it takes to fill a bucket with water using the 1-litre container filled from a tap.

Imagine that you had to collect and carry water for your family every day.

Estimate and discuss:

  • how long might it take to collect enough water to have a shower
  • how much water you would need each day
  • how much of your day would be spent collecting water.

Examine photos showing women and children carrying water or collecting water to carry.
Compare their containers to your containers and bucket using language such as 'holds more/less', or 'heavier/lighter'.

In low rainfall Rajasthan, India, villagers depend on tube wells for their water.In Niger, Zelifa hauls water from a well using a flexible bucket.In Niger, villagers queue to use the new pump.
A woman carries heavy buckets of water from a standpipe to her home near Sekong, Laos.A group of people use water from a pump for washing themselves and their dishes.Villagers learned to use water purification tablets to ensure safe water and prevent the spread of cholera in Papua New Guinea.


  • Why would people have to carry water?
  • How do they collect and carry water?
  • Whose job does it appear to be from these photos?
  • How much time might carrying water take each day?
  • What impact would water collection have on people's lives: for example, health, children's opportunities to go to school?

Create some labels or captions to accompany the electronic images.

Activity 4: Sharing a precious resource

Students consider why water is a precious resource and how all living things are affected by a shortage of water.


What do you know about using water with care?

View and discuss: digital curriculum resource M007757: Saving water – it's child's play or M007759: Three little raindrops.

Examine the globe to see how much of the Earth's surface is covered by water. If there is so much water, why is it still so precious?

Demonstrate that only a small proportion of this water is fresh water, available for humans:

  • Fill a 1-litre container to represent all the water on the planet.
  • Measure out 30 millilitres of this and tip it into another container. This is the Earth's freshwater supply. The water left in the first container is the salt water of the seas and oceans.
  • From the freshwater container, take 10 millilitres and tip it into the third container.

Discuss and list in response to the question: What can we learn from this? 

Share the story of Tiddalick the Frog.


  • What can we learn from this story about why water is precious?
  • Where and when might water be especially precious?
  • Discuss different environments, seasons and events such as drought and how they relate to water.

Other Australian stories you could share include Drought by Tricia Oktober and Big Rain Coming by Katrina Germein and Bronwyn Bancroft.

Activity 5: Wonderful water

Students reflect on what they have learned about the importance of an adequate and safe water supply and work together to communicate key messages to others.


  • access to the internet
  • National Digital Learning Resources Network L11652: Snappy 

What have you learned about people's access to water around the world? Why is it important to have a safe water supply? How can we help?

Brainstorm and list ways of completing sentences such as:
'We all need a safe water supply because … '
'Water is precious because … '

Create a class 'Wonderful Water' big book or multimedia text with your key ideas and messages. You could use digital curriculum resource L11652: Snappy or other suitable software to create an interactive presentation bringing together photos, drawings, sentences, captions, labels and audio.

Present your work to other classes or at a school assembly, after rehearsing within your own class. You might also like to prepare an article for the school newsletter and/or upload your presentation to a wiki or the school intranet.

Revisit photos you have examined, and representations of data about water use that you have created.
Make a statement about why water is a precious resource for everyone in the world.

Think, pair, share some messages about water that you would like everyone to think about.

Related activities

See the following related activities and adapt them as appropriate.

Human rights

Basic needs and children's rights (F–2), Activity 2: What children need to survive and develop
Students develop an understanding that children around the world have the same needs and the right to have their needs met and protected.
This activity from Human rights could readily be adapted to give water and sanitation special emphasis.

Water and sanitation

Access to safe water and sanitation (5–6), Activity 4: Cleaning muddy water  
Students make a simple sand and gravel filter to clean muddy water and make it suitable for washing (not drinking).

We all need water (3-4), Activity 3: Water and sanitation for life
Students deepen their understanding of how and why access to clean water and adequate sanitation makes a huge difference to people's lives.


Staying healthy (5–6), Activity 4: Handwashing for hygiene
Students learn about the importance of handwashing to avoid the spread of disease and explore the technology and health benefits of a Tippy-tap, a simple device designed to encourage handwashing in areas with limited water supplies.

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A girl waters her family vegetable plot, helping to produce a healthy crop and vital nutrition in Sekong, Laos.
Photo by Jim Holmes for AusAID
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A girl waters her family vegetable plot, helping to produce a healthy crop and vital nutrition in Sekong, Laos. Photo by Jim Holmes for AusAID