Teachers Parents Kids Administrators Librarians Reading Club Book Fairs

Science Lesson Plan: Water, Grades 2-3

Science Lesson Plan: Water, Grades 2-3

This lesson serves as an introduction to a water unit for grades 2-3. The featured nonfiction text, A Cool Drink of Water, portrays people around the world gathering, storing, and drinking water. Including an afterword with details about each photograph and a note on water conservation, this text about water as a universal need provides a natural segue into further study of water, the water cycle, seasons, weather, the ocean, and ecology. Included are elements of informational text, vocabulary, images, close reading for analysis, text-dependent questions, narrative writing, companion texts, and cross-curricular activities. These elements relay foundational science content; weave in history/geography, art/photography, cultural studies, and more; and meet many 2–3 ELA CCSS.

Featured Key ELA Common Core Standards

  • RI.2.7/RI.3.7: Explain how specific images contribute to and clarify a text; use information gained from illustrations and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).
  • W.2.3/W.3.3: Write narratives in which they recount a well elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure; write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
  • SL.2.4/SL.3.4: Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences; report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
  • L.2.5/L.3.5: Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

Lesson Content Objectives

  • Describe water, including its forms, sources, and the way it moves and is stored or consumed
  • Identify as the main topic the universal significance of water in all parts of the world for all humans
  • Examine and make inferences about photographs, and explain how the images to convey information
  • Create a short fictional narrative based on one of the photographs from the text
  • Conduct further reading about water sources, properties, cultures, conservation, and the water cycle

Duration: 1–2 days

Materials: Copies of A Cool Drink of Water, by Barbara Kerley; chart paper; markers; copies of CCSS-featured companion text, A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder, by Walter Wick (optional)


  • Water-related/descriptive/action words: drinking, scooped, drawn, caught, drips, cool, stored, chilled, ice, squeezed, sipped, shared, everyone, everywhere
  • Water sources/containers: river, well, roof, fountains, pumps, tap, clay pots, pitcher, buckets, brass pots, plastic jugs, caravan cans, bottle, burlap bag, tin cup


  • Share the cover, title, title page, and author of A Cool Drink of Water. Ask students to describe what they see on the cover and title page, and to predict what this book is about. Ask if they think the text is fiction or nonfiction.
  • Read the book aloud while displaying the images on a smart board/projector. As you read, ask students what they notice about the images. Explain that these are photographs of real people and places, and that this is a nonfiction text. Have students point out the water in each image, and confirm any predictions.
  • As you read, or after you are finished, have students help you gather and sort words (vocabulary lists above): action words or adjectives describing how water moves, or is gathered and consumed; and nouns that are containers or sources where water is found or stored. Discuss the relationships among the words, and how the author uses nuanced words to describe slightly different characteristics of water. Discuss how it is gathered and stored, and how this affects how it is consumed (e.g., scooped, caught, drips, squeezed, sipped).
  • Give each child or group a copy of the book and guide them in reading the text again. Then, have students choose a photograph to study. Tell them to look carefully at the details in the photograph to answer the following questions in writing. Allow groups to share their evidence-based answers and inferences.
    • How would you describe the person or people in the photograph? How would you describe the setting? Are there any clues in the photograph that help you infer the type of setting, or the specific location?
    • How is water being portrayed in this photograph? How would you describe the water? Why do you think the author chose certain words to describe water and its sources and containers?
    • What information do the images tell you about water? What additional information do they convey?
    • What is the main topic of this nonfiction text? (Water is needed by everyone in all parts of the world.) Which key details in the text support this main topic?
  • Have students choose a photograph, individually or as a group, and write a short fictional narrative about the person(s), setting, and event(s) surrounding the image. Guide them in crafting a beginning, middle, and end using transitional words. Encourage them to make water a key part of the story, and to explain how the setting affects the character(s) and plot. Explain the difference between a photograph of a real person and place, and a fictional story based on that photograph. Display each photograph and have students share their stories.

Differentiation: Create a story together based on a photograph, practicing how to develop a beginning, middle, and end using transitional words. You may assign various extension activities to different groups of students by ability.

Featured Extensions (optional)

A Cool Drink around the World: Read sections of or the entirety of this afterword at the end of the book. Point out on the map some of the locations of the photographs, and review particular details. Have students see if they were correct in their inferences about some of the types of settings and specific locations in the photographs. You may choose to review some of the vocabulary below, creating words clouds for each category.

Proper nouns (locations/landmarks/events): Tidore Island, Indonesia; Rocky Mountains, Canada; Aran Islands, Galway, Ireland; Rome, Italy; Fontana della Barcaccia, Fountain of a Boat; Zambezi River, Zambia; Agra, India; Taj Mahal; Yamuna River; Pokhara, Nepal; Kanye, Botswana; Phai Sali, Thailand; Gujarat State, India; Simpson Desert, Australia; Anna Creek Cattle Station; Prey Char, Cambodia; Bahlah, Oman; Des Moines, Iowa; USA; Mississippi River; Skookum Gulch, Oregon; Klamath Mountains; Monaco; Takoma Park, Maryland; Thar Desert; Cuzco, Peru; Inca Empire; Huatanay River; Tullumayo River; Lugu Lake, Yunnan Province, China; Arizona-Utah Border; Upper Water Holes Canyon; St. Petersburg, Florida

Water-related words: reflection, pool, thirsty, sip, tropical rainforest, rainfall, glacier, frosty, refreshment, melting snow, flow, lakes, hauls, collects, groundwater, toting, basket, fish, scoops, supply, monsoon, season, rainwater, gutter, pipe, pumping, pulling, pump, handle, spigot, gather, underground, dripping, celebration, pond, desalination, seawater, floodwater, treatment system, ice cubes, caravan, jerry cans, drawing, canals, channel, hydrated,

Measurement/math words: 120 inches per year, one-sixth, 80 percent, average, yearly, 5 ½ inches, gallons, eight pound, 40 pounds, 70 percent

A Note on Water Conservation: Read this last part of the book together, which includes information about the water cycle, clouds, and water as a renewable resource. Discuss ways your class can help conserve water. You may choose to review some of the vocabulary listed below, creating word clouds for the categories.

Water-related words: watery planet, undrinkable, fresh, glaciers, polar ices sheets, jug, renewable resource, recycles, ocean, evaporates, atmospheric, holding tanks, clouds, rain, replenishes, lakes, rivers, groundwater, sources, human body, supply, limited, need, polluting, dwindling, demand, impure, shortages, transporting, expensive, aqueduct, river systems, watershed conservation, deep-ocean, research, scarcity, agriculture, bathroom, faucet, low-flow showerheads, toilets, bathwater, graywater

Measurement/math words: three-quarters, 97 percent, three percent, two-thirds, one percent, volume, tablespoonful, gallon, 70 percent, eight glasses a day, twice, rate, low-flow

Proper nouns (locations/projects): Earth, National Geographic Society, North America, United Nations, New York City, Sustainable Seas Expeditions, National Marine Sanctuaries, Reefs at Risk, Committee for Research and Exploration

Reading: As a companion text, read A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder by Walter Wick (featured as a complex informational text in the CCSS). Discuss how the two texts are similar and how they are different. Have students closely study a photograph from this text and describe it in detail and/or compare it to a photograph in the other text. Use a Venn diagram to guide the compare/contrast.

Cross-Curricular Connections

Book Collections, Worksheets, Lesson Planning Resources