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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Water Uses and Children’s Lives in East Africa

Africa, Kenya, Tanzania
Grades 3-5, Grades K-2
Arts & Music, Language Arts & Literature, Social Studies & Geography
One class period

This lesson uses students’ interactions with water to help them compare their lives with those of children in Kenya or Tanzania. It looks at ways that access to water helps define children’s roles in the family, and how this relates to culture. Students write essays and draw pictures to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts.


Students will

  • Identify how water is a part of life and culture.
  • Record their daily water usage.
  • Compose a story that compares water’s impact on children’s daily lives in their region with water’s impact on children’s daily lives in Kenya or Tanzania.
  • Prepare a picture to accompany the story.
  • Africa: one of the largest continents on Earth. It has 53 countries and is known for many things including large deserts and many animals.
  • Água: water in Portuguese
  • Criança: children in Portuguese


  • Photos from Kenya (find link above)
  • Photos from Tanzania (find link above)
  • Stories from Kenya and Tanzania (See Water in Africa Theme Page)
  • Map of Kenya (find link above)
  • Map of Tanzania (find link above)
  • Student water log (find link above)
  • Colored pencils, crayons, art paper, watercolors, tempera paint, or markers


  1. To introduce this lesson, put a list of activities on the board that are all water-related, such as getting a drink, using the bathroom, washing dishes, taking a shower, watering plants, putting out water for pets, washing hands, and cooking spaghetti.
  2. Ask students to look at the list and then decide how the items are the same, as well as how they are different. Introduce the term "compare," and then make two lists from their ideas using "same" and "different" as the headings. When the lists are complete, talk about what the students have included in them. Explain that the class will be practicing how to compare in this lesson that focuses on water and children's lives.
  3. Ask students if people all over the world would engage in these activities. Explain that some activities, such as eating, drinking, and cleaning, are universally performed by people, but activities such as car washing and cooking spaghetti may not be.
  4. Explain that in this lesson they will be learning about their culture and about cultures in rural Kenya or Tanzania from the photos and stories on the Water in Africa Theme Page.
  5. Locate Africa on the world map, and then find Kenya or Tanzania.
  6. Introduce the photos and stories from Kenya or Tanzania, explaining that these are materials from Peace Corps Volunteers who were serving there. Point out instances of water-related activities in the photos, and take the time to read a story or two to the class.
  7. Have the students review the photos and stories on their own if necessary. Then, instruct them to write a story that compares water use by children in the United States to that of children in Kenya or Tanzania. Students should draw a picture to accompany the essay.

Frameworks & Standards

Essential Questions
  • How does where you live influence your day-to-day existence?
  • How does access to clean water influence the lives of children?
  • Language Arts Standards
    • Standard 5: Communication Strategies
    • Standard 7: Evaluating Data
    • Standard 8: Developing Research Skills
    • Standard 9: Multi-cultural Understanding
    • Standard 12: Applying Language Skills
  • Science Standards
    • Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
  • Visual Arts Standards
    • Standard 1: Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes


  • Investigate a particular ethnic group from Kenya or Tanzania to see how water is viewed in their culture. The books If I Were Masai and The Orphan Boy, are good introductions to one ethnic group, as are Kendall Rondeau's and Bryce Sitter's stories at Water and Culture.
  • Enroll in the Peace Corps' Coverdell World Wise Schools Correspondence Match program, which will connect your classroom to a currently-serving Peace Corps Volunteer. This is an excellent way to continue learning about the idea of service and differences between cultures.
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