Lesson Series
Water Justice

Water Justice

Unit Overview

Through readings, activities and discussions, students follow the story of Coco’s Aunt Carmen whose well has inexplicably dried up. Coco learns how her aunt and cousin have been affected by the water shortage. After participating in a protest march, she is inspired to take action. Students look at where water comes from and the ways we use it, with a focus on who controls access to water. They are introduced to issues of fairness and actions individuals can take to help rectify inequities regarding water use. At school, Coco shares her experience with her friends. They talk about what it means to be an activist and learn that even children as young as they can make a difference. They are inspired to become activists themselves—water protectors.


  • Kindergarten
  • Grade 1
  • Grade 2

Lesson Type

In-class or online lesson

Environmental Topics

Environmental Justice, Health, Pollution, Resource Conservation

Environmental Literacy Core Principles

For a summary of the environmental literacy principles and concepts embedded in this lesson series, please visit Green Guardians Environmental Literacy Core Principles.


ELA: RL.K.1, RL.K.2, RL.K.3, RL.K.4, RL.K.6, RL.K.7, RL.K.10, RL.1.1, RL.1.2, RL.1.3, RL.1.4, RL.1.7, RL.1.10, RL.2.1, RL.2.3, RL.2.4, RL.2.6, RL.2.7
HSS: HSS-K.3, HSS-K.6.3, HSS-1.2.4, HSS-1.5.1, HSS-2.4.3
Science: K-ESS3-3


Teacher Guide

This project may easily be extended into optional family discussions and activities around a family’s use of water. To facilitate this engagement, a family guide has been created which teachers may choose to forward to interested parents and guardians.

Family Guide (English)


Three lessons of 30-40 minutes each. 

Lesson 1: All Dried Up

Through a story and related activities, students are introduced to the concept of inequity. Coco and her mother get word that Aunt Carmen’s well has dried up. She lives in the next county, not too far away. They drive over with cases of bottled water, passing well-watered fields and golf courses. Through interactions with her cousin Carlos, Coco comes to understand how much she takes water for granted. She learns about a serious problem: unequal access to water.

Lesson 2: A Fight For Our Rights 

Through a story and related activities, students are introduced to water insecurity and how our actions contribute to it. Carlos’s friend Moki arrives to pick up Carlos for the water rally. But Carlos is sick due to the bad water he drank right before the well dried up, so Coco attends the march instead. The experience makes Coco aware of the inequities of water use in her area and spurs her to take action. When water is not shared equally, certain groups of people are disproportionately affected. Water is a basic necessity, and everyone has a right to it.

Lesson Materials

Lesson 3: Water Protectors  

Through a story and related activities, students learn about activism. Back home, Coco’s classmates want to hear all about the march. Coco shares a poem she heard at the rally, recited by a young activist named Una. The children discuss it, define “activism”, and realize that young people can become activists, too. They vow to save water and to call on others to join them as Water Protectors.

Lesson Materials

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