Water Pollution


The lesson introduces students to water pollution, with a summary related to overall pollution.  Students see bodies of water as they travel, or perhaps locally, and the water may appear to be clean and safe, but sometimes pollutants change the water.  It is important for students to understand, though water covers 70% of the Earth’s surface, clean drinking water accounts for less than 1% of the water found on Earth.  Understanding the effects of water pollution is important for students to become aware of in their young lives since they may face these issues in the years ahead.

Water Pollution Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about Water Pollution
  • Hands-on homework activities
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 3-4 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

*Note: These lessons are PDF downloads. You will be directed to the download once you checkout. Clarendon Learning resources are FREE, we rely 100% on donations to operate our site. Thank you for your support!


The lesson begins with an overview of pollution in general, and then focuses specifically on water pollution.  Students are reminded that their bodies are made up of 70% water, and Earth’s surface is also 70% water so keeping water clean is very important.  Several types of water pollution are described, including chemical water pollution and oil spillage, among others. A list of ways to help keep water clean is also provided as part of the lesson.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction: 

  1. Display two containers water, one with clean water, and another with polluted water (add a substance that does not show the pollution, such as a few drops of a chemical). Do not tell the students about the difference.  Ask students:  What is the difference between the two containers of water?
  2. Allow for responses and discussion. Further ask students how it would be possible to find out if the water is different. (Responses may include testing; tasting, though dangerous; smelling, etc.)
  3. Allow for responses and discussion. Tell students water can be polluted even though it may appear to be clean.  (Ensure students drinking water from home, school, etc., is safe.)  Discuss water found in lakes, ponds, rivers, the ocean, etc., they look clean but may not be.  Introduce Water Pollution.
  4. Distribute Water Pollution content pages. Read and review the information with the students.  Save the final question for the lesson closing.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  5. Distribute Activity page. Read and review the instructions.  Pair students and distribute supplies.  Review students’ rough drafts.  Allow students time to complete the posters, giving access to the Internet if possible.  Encourage students to create catchy title, slogan, etc.  Remind students to respond to the 3 questions.
  6. Once completed, students share their posters with other pairs of students. Conduct a class discussion related to the 3 questions.
  7. Distribute Practice page. Check and review the students’ responses.
  8. Distribute the Homework page. The next day, check and review the students’ responses.
  9. In closing, ask students: Which of the suggestions for preventing water pollution could you begin doing almost immediately when you get home? What will you specifically do?
  10. Allow for responses and discussion. Ask students why some ideas may not be as easy as other ideas.

Common Core State Standards: 

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.7, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.7

Class Sessions (45 minutes): At least 2 class sessions

Additional Resources: 

Want more science resources? Check out our other Science Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

3rd Grade, 4th Grade