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Curriculum Level: 6-8

By Kate Wernersbach from Wake Early College of Health and Science

OVERVIEW OF LESSON: This lesson is designed to create awareness about UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: Clean Water and Sanitation. Students will conduct research about each of the eight SDG 6 Targets (listed below) and then apply their knowledge to creating a children’s book to educate elementary school children about one of the targets. If possible, students will read their children’s books to younger children and talk about how everyone can help to achieve SDG 6. Students will get an overview of the other Sustainable Development Goals so that they can also make connections and understand how many of the goals are interconnected.


SUBJECTS: ELA or Environmental Science


Reading Standards:

RI.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of text 

RI/RL.2: Determine two or more themes (central ideas) of a text; analyze their development over the course of the text.

RL.3: Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Writing Standards:

W.3: Write narratives to develop real/imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, & well-structured events.

W.4: Use digital tools and resources to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

W.5: Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem.

W.6: Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources

Speaking & Listening Standards:

SL.5: Make strategic use of digital media in presentations to enhance understanding of findings and to add interest.

Language Standards:

L.2: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English.

L.3: Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions, and make effective choices for meaning or style.

Related Earth & Environmental Standards:
EEn.2.1.4: Explain how processes and forces affect the lithosphere – groundwater pollution

EEn.2.2.1: Explain consequences of various types of land use; Explain ways to mitigate human impacts; explain effects of human activity on shorelines.

EEn.2.2.2: Compare the methods of obtaining energy resources: harvesting (peat and wood), mining (coal and uranium/plutonium), drilling (oil and natural gas) and the effect of these activities on the environment.

EEn.2.4: Evaluate how humans use water.

EEn.2.8: Evaluate human behaviors in terms of how likely they are to ensure the ability to live sustainably on Earth.


  • What are the UN Sustainable Development Goals? 
  • What is SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, and what steps are being taken to achieve this goal? 
  • What are the challenges in achieving SDG 6: clean water and sanitation for all? 
  • How can we identify and solve water and sanitation problems?


  1. Students will be able to research SDG 6 in order to learn the most pressing issues to accomplish this goal and to learn what solutions are in place on a global, national and local level. 
  2. Students will be able to create a narrative piece of writing (a children’s book) that conveys a theme about one of the SDG 6 targets; they will be able to create characters and a plot that conveys that theme and educates the reader about the SDG 6 target. 
  3. Students will be able to use digital media, as well as speaking and listening skills to create a digital children’s book that they will present to their peers and hopefully elementary school students (or some sort of target audience) to spread awareness.


SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation Targets:

  • Target 6.1: Safe and Affordable Drinking Water
  • Target 6.2: End open defecation and provide access to sanitation and hygiene
  • Target 6.3: Improve water quality, wastewater treatment and safe reuse
  • Target 6.4: Increase water-use efficiency and ensure freshwater supplies
  • Target 6.5: Implement integrated water resources management
  • Target 6.6: Protect and restore water-related ecosystems
  • Target 6.7: Expand water and sanitation support to developing countries
  • Target 6.8: Support local engagement in water and sanitation management


Suggested vocabulary for lesson: sustainability, contamination, sanitation, infrastructure, hygiene, wastewater – Journal Prompts and Word of the Day Slideshow

Note: Lessons are based on block scheduling with 80-90 minutes per class. If you can collaborate with an Environmental Science teacher, then they can cover some of the science side with waterborne illnesses and life in water.

Day 1:

  1. Introduce the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
  2. Use Nearpod or big poster paper to ask background knowledge questions (Nearpod Interactive/Chalk Talk Activity with anticipatory questions handout)– poll questions can be posted with PollEverywhere and the Collaborate Board questions could be posted on a Padlet if Nearpod is not available. This can also be done as a Chalk Talk activity by creating a poster for each question and having students walk around and silently post answers, and then have class discussion. 
    1. Example Nearpod Activity (Intro to SDG 6) PDF
  3. Teach SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation Introduction Notes
  4. Provide overview of UN SDG 6 – Read “Why Water Matters
  5. Show “Running Dry: Call to Action (20 minutes)
  6. Students record at least 5 facts on Running Dry” Notes slide; then share in pairs/group and add facts they learn from peers
  7. Create class notes on anchor chart or on a Google Slideshow or on a Padlet
  8. Exit Ticket – What did you learn today? Did any facts shock or surprise you? What do you think can be done to solve the issues pertaining to water and sanitation?
    1. Quick assessment of what students learned today, as well as a means to get them to start thinking about solutions

Days 2-4:

  1. Bellringer Journal: What does water mean to you? and then show “Tell Us What Water is to You” video (1 minute long)
  2. Students will be placed into teams to research the “glocal” impacts of clean water & sanitation (global, national, and local impacts) – they will create a water-themed name for their team.
  3. Based on their research, teams will gather evidence and knowledge for writing their children’s books (if you are able to have local water experts come in for a panel discussion, students can also create questions to ask these experts).
  4. This Clean Water and Sanitation Stations Activity includes many of the resources from the background information with a set of texts that can help students to jump start their research
  5. Students will use the Clean Water and Sanitation Research Worksheet to gather information for their children’s books. This worksheet can be modified for groups to focus on only one SDG 6 Target, or groups could assign certain questions to each person in the group.
  6. Research will take 2-4 days depending on time and other activities class may be doing.

Days 5-8:

  1. Introduce Children’s Book Assignment – write a story for elementary school students to create awareness for their SDG 6 target
  2. Children’s Book Planning Worksheet – groups can use this planning worksheet to map out their story
  3. Students will work on their final product for several days by writing a children’s book to create awareness for their SDG 6 target. Book Creator is a good online site to do the books digitally, or if materials are available, students could create tangible books with paper or blank books.
  4. During these 4-5 days, teachers can conduct mini lessons on tone or figurative language (Diction, Figurative Language slidedeck) and the Figurative Language Worksheet
  5. Differentiation options: provide sentence starters or a template for children’s books, modify the number of research questions, or have groups research and write a book for only one of the 8 targets – not all of them.
  6. Another option – could also have students connect SDG 6 to another SDG in the children’s book to show the meaningful and important impact of clean water on other issues.

Days 10-12:

  1. Read children’s books to the entire class for peer feedback and practice.
  2. Try to partner with a local elementary school and either visit the school or set up a virtual classroom using Google Meet or Zoom so high/middle school students can read the books to the younger students.
  3. Have a class seminar discussion using the Clean Water Seminar Reflection Questions about the lesson using their research notes and knowledge they gained from their peers.



  1. Involve the community by asking local water experts to participate in a panel discussion – while doing research, students can craft questions to ask the panel. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), local water agencies, grad students from a nearby college who are active with the clean water cause are all suggestions for the panel.
  2. Water Walk – ask students, staff and entire school community to get involved by donating gallon water bottles and have students walk 1-2 miles on a route around campus to raise awareness about the challenges for people in other parts of the world who must walk to get clean drinking water.
  3. The Department of Environmental Quality Water Division also has a Water Writers Program where classes from different parts of North Carolina can be paired to write pen pal letters about what they have learned about water.
  4. Wastewater Treatment Plant – work with Environmental Science teacher to go on a field trip


  • Children’s Book Rubric
  • Seminar Discussion Rubric
  • Any online book creation program – Book Creator recommended (There is a free option for teachers, and they can have students join with a code and up to 40 books can be created, but if you can become a Book Creator Ambassador rather easily by creating your own book and completing a few other steps.)
  • Paper or blank ready-made books to create their children’s book
  • Some sample children’s books
  • Google Docs for collaboration on research and children’s book


Clean Water and Sanitation. (2023). GatherIQ. Retrieved October 5, 2022, from

Clean Water and Sanitation: Why it Matters. (n.d.) United Nations. Retrieved January 9, 2023, from

Discover Resources. (n.d.). YouTube. Retrieved October 5, 2022, from

Dollar Street – photos as data to kill country stereotypes. (n.d.). Gapminder. Retrieved January 9, 2023, from

ELA Standard Course of Study. (2020, January 6). North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Retrieved October 5, 2022 from

Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation. (n.d.). SDG Tracker. Retrieved October 5, 2022, from

Goal 6 | Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (n.d.). Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved January 9, 2023, from

How’s my waterway? (n.d.). United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved October 5, 2022, from

Project Everyone. Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation. (n.d.). The Global Goals. Retrieved January 9, 2023, from

Running Dry: Call To Action. (2010, January 28). YouTube. UNESCO. Retrieved October 5, 2022, from

6 Clean Water. (2020). Inspiring Inquiry. Retrieved October 5, 2022, from

State Announces Record $789.4M for Drinking Water and Wastewater Project Funding Statewide (2022 January 27). NC Governor Roy Cooper. Retrieved October 5, 2022, from

Tell Us What Water is To You (n.d.). SDG Resources for Educators – Clean Water and Sanitation. UNESCO. Retrieved October 5, 2022, from

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). (n.d.). World Health Organization (WHO). Retrieved October 5, 2022, from