Why Live Near Water?

Why Live Near Water? lesson plan

Investigate the birth of human communities in locations where land and water meet.

  • 1.

    People have always settled where land and water meet. Have students examine this phenomenon and determine the many roles water serves for communities. How do rivers, lakes and oceans serve communities as sources of food and potable water, transportation routes, protection from enemies, irrigation for crops, sources of food and energy, and other roles in agricultural and manufacturing economies?

  • 2.

    Have students examine maps and determine which large population centers are near rivers, lakes, coastlines, bays, waterfalls, etc. and how those water sources have served those communities. Have a class discussion, listing the multiple roles water serves for communities and determine why people selected those particular sites near water were selected for people to settle.

  • 3.

    Divide the class into teams, each exploring one of the major roles that was brainstormed in the class discussion, such as "Water as Protection," "Water as Transportation," "Water as a Food Source," or "Water as a Source of Energy." Have each team research how this role has been important to different communities.

  • 4.

    Have the teams use Crayola® Model Magic® modeling material to create a three-dimensional scene which demonstrates that role of water and why people live near water. Build models on cardboard bases. Use colored Model Magic or paint dry white Model Magic figures with Crayola Watercolors or Tempera Paint. Incorporate small craft items or recycled materials into the setting. Use Crayola Markers to add labels to scenes to explain the role water is serving.


  • Students explore why communities settle in locations where land and water meet.
  • Students create three-dimensional models to demonstrate their understanding of the numerous needs water serves (as protection, transportation, irrigation, and a source of food).
  • Older students analyze the importance of water to ancient civilizations and colonial settlements.


  • Older students can explore this theme from various historic perspectives, comparing how the areas where land and water meet have been critical for ancient civilizations, colonial settlements, and modern urban areas. Take the role of a person living at th
  • Younger children can work together to focus on water as a transportation route. Investigate different ways people have traveled on water. Use Model Magic® to construct replicas of various modes of water transport used by ancient, colonial, and modern ci