Objective: Students will learn the value of conserving water as part of a water history
Materials: 1 bucket suitable for drinking from, 1 ladle, compass, 1 piece of heavy (card
stock-type) paper per student, 1 copy per student of the "Drinking Cup" instructions, 1
copy per student of the "Drink Token" page
Water is only as far away as the faucet. All of South Dakota's towns and all but a handful
of rural people have running water. Most state residents have water delivered directly to
their homes, business, and farms and ranches from a municipal or a rural water
distribution system. In South Dakota we have 25 regional rural water systems, multiple
municipalities and small systems that furnish water to citizens. All types of water
systems function in relatively the same manner. Water is pumped from a source,
treated, and delivered to the water users through underground pipelines called water
mains. If a person living in rural South Dakota doesn't get his/her water from one of the
above systems, he/she usually gets it from a well.
Most households in South Dakota got their water from a well or from a nearby stream or
pond. Households had a bucket specifically designated for drinking water. When a
person was thirsty, he/she would get a dipper full of water from the water bucket and
take a drink. When the bucket was empty, someone would have to haul another bucket
of water to the house. To keep the water cool during the warm months, the bucket was
usually located in the unheated entry way or next to the sink in the kitchen.
Make copies of the "Drink Tokens" page. Each student receives 1 page.
Have each student write their first and last name on each drink token and then cut out.
They are responsible for their own tokens.
Next, have students make their own drinking cup from the instructions provided and
using the heavy cardstock-type paper.
Have 2 students carry an empty bucket to the kitchen, fill it with water, and carry it back
to the room where it should be placed near the teacher's desk. Make sure the bucket
has a lid.
Hang the ladle on the bucket. This will be your student's only supply of water for the day
or for the week. This means no drinking from the water fountain.
Each student must have a glass/cup. (8 oz. for his/her personal use. Each student can
drink up to 8 glasses of water per day. This is the recommended amount of water a
person should drink per day.)
Each day, every student should be given 8 drink tokens which can be exchanged for 8
cups of water. When the bucket is empty, have a new pair of volunteers haul in another
bucket of water.
Do this process for 1 week. Have your students keep track of the days that they used all
their drink tokens and the days they did not. Have each student journal his/her thoughts
on water usage each day. Have them do comparative thinking/writing - how many times
they would have had to go to the well, or how many times they would have had to dip the
bucket in the cistern if they were drinking the same amount in the 1890's as they have
this past week.
NOTE: DO NOT ALLOW YOUR STUDENTS TO DRINK DIRECTLY FROM THE
LADLE OR THE BUCKET. Explain that many disease-causing organisms live in and
can be spread by water. Public health specialists call diseases spread in such a manner
Activity source and adapted from: North Dakota Project WET
Science, Math, Social Studies,
SD Standards for 4th grade:
Nature of Science, Indicator 2, 4.S.1.1;
4.M.1.1; 4.N.3.1; 4.S.2.1
4.R.1.1; 4.R.1.2; 4.R.2.1; 4.R.2.3;
Prior Preparation: This is one of
several activities in a "water history"
unit. Make copies of the water history
stories to hand out to students. Have
students read aloud in class each story
and hold an in-class discussion of what
they do in their lives vs what pioneer
children would have done in their lives
with their limited water resources.
These stores are the "lead-in" to the
activities in this unit.