November 2010 Inspire!
Do you know what lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, swamps, bogs, and marshes have in common? They are all freshwater habitats, and along with reservoirs and ground water, make up the 1% of the Earth’s water that is salt-free and suitable for drinking. Because of the importance of freshwater, it was selected as the theme of Geography Awareness Week, held the third week in November. The purpose of Geography Awareness Week, which was established in 1987 through legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan, is to promote geographic understanding.
In celebration of Geography Awareness Week, think about discussing the theme of freshwater with your student(s) and help him to recognize that all water is connected! The following are great books to use to open a discussion of the importance of freshwater.
- One Well: The Story of Water on Earth – Rochelle Strauss
- A Drop Around the World – Barbara Shaw McKinney
- Water, Water, Everywhere by Mark J. Rauzon and Cynthia Overbeck Bix (Sierra Club book – outstanding photographs)
- A Cool Drink of Water by Barbara Kerley
In addition, you can gather information about the importance of freshwater at http://www.mywonderfulworld.org/gaw.html. There you will find information appropriate for children and teens as well as parents and educators.
Then continue to explore the importance of freshwater through the five themes of geography. Suggested questions and activities follow.
Location (absolute and relative)
Map the places where freshwater can be found in your state, in your country, or in the world. Is the water found in a place where there are a lot of people or only a few? What difference can that make? Discuss the fact that while Antarctica is made of ice, it is not a source for freshwater. Rain does not fall in Antarctica; it is actually as dry as a desert.
Place (physical and human characteristics)
Explore the physical characteristics of a freshwater habitat firsthand, or through one of these books. Before visiting or reading, ask your student what he or she expects to see there. How do the animals and plant life there help to maintain clean freshwater?
- Freshwater Habitats: life in freshwater ecosystems - Laurie Toupin
- One Small Square: Pond – Donald Silver and Patricia Wynne
What is the impact that people can have on freshwater? Can you think of ways that people are protecting freshwater? When pollution has occurred, are there ways that it can be cleaned up?
- My River - Shari Halpern – Creatures who live in and by a river tell about the importance of rivers.
- A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History – Lynne Cherry – The environmental history of the Nashua River.
- Come Back, Salmon: How a Group of Dedicated Kids Adopted Pigeon Creek and Brought it Back to Life – Molly Cone
- Ryan and Jimmy: And the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together – Herb Shoveller
Movement (People, goods, ideas)
Explore how water plays an integral part in the movement of people and goods. Determine whether freshwater is part of the journey.
- Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean – Arthur Dorros
- How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark - Rosalyn Schanzer
- Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe – Vera B. Williams
Regions (formal, functional, vernacular)
Look at different regions of the world and see how water is a part. Consider focusing on the region where you live.
Wrap up your investigation of freshwater by checking out your knowledge about water at Quiz Your Noodle: http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/games/puzzlesquizzes/quizyournoodle-water/
Then be sure to visit http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/games/actiongames/waterlogged for Waterlogged! Nat and Geo’s H20 Adventure. Join the pair as they kayak down the Red River and explore a shipwreck.
At the National Geographic Society website you can explore freshwater photo galleries and go along on the quest to find the largest freshwater fish.
As a culminating activity, make a Freshwater Fact book and encourage your student to share the interesting things he has learned about freshwater.