|Environmental Education in the Schools (Peace Corps, 1993)|
|Activities, activities and more activities|
By listening to a rhyming story about water pollution in one community, your kids can discover how pollution can affect waterways. They'll also discover that the waste we wash "away" can have harmful effects later on.
Before reading the story, ask the kids to name some of the ways they use water (for drinking, bathing, brushing teeth, cleaning clothes and dishes, and so on). Then ask them what happens to the water that drains out of their washing machines and dishwashers or washes down their sinks. (Don't worry whether the kids know the answer at this point. You'll be discussing what happens to household water with them after they hear the story.) Explain that many people never think about what happens to the water they use in their households each day. They also don't think about what happens to the water that runs off their streets and yards.
Next tell the kids you're going to read them a story about a town called "Away" and about how people in the town polluted the water in a nearby bay without realizing what was happening. Tell the kids to listen carefully to the story to find out just how the water in the bay became polluted. Also tell them to listen for the word "away." Each time they hear it they should make a "hitch-hiking" motion over their shoulder with their thumb to represent something going away.
After you read the story, discuss it with the kids. Ask them if waste from Away simply disappeared. (no) What happened to the waste? (it ended up in the bay) Then go over the verses in the first half of the story to be sure the kids understood what was happening in each one. Use the information under "Where Did It Go?" on the next page to help with the discussion.
Afterward pass out crayons or markers and drawing paper and have the kids draw pictures of the story. They might draw the people in the town, the bay when it was polluted, or the bay when it was cleaned up again. If you're working with older kids, you might want to have them create their own picture books of the story. Pass out copies of page 189 and have the kids draw a picture to go along with each verse of the story. Then have them glue their pictures on sheets of construction paper, copy the words of each verse onto the pages, and staple the pages together.
WHERE DID IT GO?
DOWN THE DRAIN: When most people in the U.S. rinse something down their drain, flush their toilet, or do a load of wash, the waste water goes to sewage treatment plants to be purified. These plants remove dirt, biodegradable material such as food waste, and many other pollutants from the water before the water is dumped into waterways. But most plants can't remove all the chemical pollutants. For example, chemicals that are used in paint thinners and phosphates that are used in many detergents pass right through some sewage treatment plants.
OFF THE STREETS: Oil, dirt, litter, and anything else that's on the streets washes into storm drains. In most areas of the country, these drains empty into a series of underground pipes that eventually dump directly into waterways.
INDUSTRIAL POLLUTION: Factories that make chemicals, paper, medicines, steel, and many other products can create a lot of pollutants. At one time, industries could legally dump waste into waterways. But pollution control laws now limit the materials that industries can dump in surface water. These controls have greatly reduced water pollution. However, not all the types of industrial waste are regulated. In addition, some experts feel that some of the regulations are not strict enough to protect aquatic systems.
TRASHING THE WATER: When trash gets thrown overboard it can create an ugly mess-both in the water and on shore after it's washed up. Trash can also harm or even kill wildlife. For example, thousands of sea birds and marine mammals die each year after eating or becoming entangled in plastic debris floating in the ocean.