But It's a Dry Heat

 For the last couple of weeks, my husband and I were on a road trip across the southwestern U.S.  All over the eastern side of central California, we saw these signs.
Instead of rows and rows of agriculture, the land was filled with singed grass and parched earth cracking open in the dry summer heat.  A change in the state's irrigation systems caused hundreds of farms in the area to be cut off from the water supply.

This summer drought is affecting huge stretches of the southern U.S., leading to wildfires and fireworks cancellations.
U.S. Drought Monitor
On our trip, we saw a car fire that ignited the whole thirsty field beside it.

To get your students involved in water conservation, start by helping them understand water supply.  Check out The Watershed Game from University of Minnesota's Bell Museum of Natural History to learn about how we are connected to all the water around us.
A quiz for novices is followed by four intermediate quizzes with interactive panoramic pictures.

Then visit King County, Washington's groundwater resource page, which includes an adorable animation featuring two groundhogs who explain the water cycle and the importance of groundwater.
The video is super catchy, explains exactly why it's important to be a good citizen when it comes to water, and is cute enough for adults to endure several viewings if necessary.

If you have a theatrical bunch of learners, try out this water cycle readers' theater script from Enchanted Learning.  My students enjoyed using simple popsicle-stick puppets to distinguish their roles.  Wild Olive's free Fair Weather Friends patterns for rain, sun, snow and wind would be a good start for representing the characters.
Let students decide how to depict the other roles.

Use literature to help students understand the historical significance of drought in the United States by reading the 1998 Newbery Medal winner Out Of The Dust by Karen Hesse.
This free verse poetic novel is a young teenager's journal of her life in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl during 1934 and 1935.  The story's descriptions are very vivid.  Early in the story, Billie Jo explains how her family sets the table:
"I place plates upside down, glasses bottom side up, napkins folded over forks, knives, and spoons.  When dinner is ready we sit down together and Ma says, 'Now.'  We shake out our napkins, spread them over our laps, and flip over our glasses and plates, exposing neat circle, round comments on what life would be like without the dust" (p. 21).
When you read Hesse's story, you can imagine that you're there with grit between your teeth as well.

Also check out The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan, a spooky graphic novel set during the Dust Bowl.
Visit the publisher Candlewick Press' site to see a short video about the book.  This book is recommended on the 2011 Texas Bluebonnet list for 3rd-6th graders.

1 comment:

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Although groundwater represents a small percentage of the total water distribution across the globe, it is the largest available reservoir of freshwater.