Nick’s Picks: Cross-curricular resources about water

This post was originally published in Nick Glass’ monthly column for Curriculum Connections, an e-newsletter published by School Library Journal in partnership with Subscribe to this free newsletter here.

Walter Wick set up a complex device to snap a picture of a single drop of it. Barbara Kerley’s crystal-clear color photographs reveal how people worldwide are dependent on it, and connected by it. Langston Hughes, Karen Hesse, Jon Muth, and Herbert Shoveller celebrate its arrival in different forms. Water: ubiquitous, yet often scarce, and endlessly fascinating.

It’s also a perfect example of a subject that permeates many areas of study, from kindergarten through high school. In this post look for materials—print, online, and multimedia—on the literature that supports cross-curricular discussions about this important resource.

On photographing water: Walter Wick’s A Drop of Water (Scholastic, 1997)
Wick is a superlative photographer. Follow this link to see the equipment and set-up necessary to take a picture of a drop of water as it falls. It’s an amazing effort to capture this detail!


On people’s dependency on this vital resource: Barbara Kerley’s A Cool Drink of Water (National Geographic, 2002)
Kerley’s photographic tour of people collecting, transporting, and enjoying water underscores our use and dependency on the resource, worldwide. The extension activities on the author’s Web site encourage students to think about and analyze water conservation in their own community.

Langston Hughes recites his poem, “April Rain Song”
This brief, live-action video interpretation of the Hughes poem, created by the Poetry Foundation, features a recitation by the poet accompanied by rippling piano music. Invite this Harlem Renaissance icon into your classroom.

On the sheer joy of rain: Karen Hesse’s Come On, Rain! (Scholastic, 1999) illustrated by Jon J. Muth
Playing in the rain is magical, particularly at the end of long, hot summer. Share this excerpt of Weston Woods’s animated video narrated by Leila Ali and music by Jerry Dale McFadden. NOTE: To view the video, click on the link above. On the Scholastic Web page, link to the video and an activity guide from the top right-hand corner.

Helping to build a well in Uganda: Herb Shoveller’s Ryan and Jimmy (Kids Can, 2006)
Hearing about a community’s lack of water propelled Ryan Hreljac to raise money to build a well in an African community. The actions of that Canadian first grade student, and others, have since funded more than 200 wells on that continent. These discussion guides provide accessible water facts, while outlining dozens of ready-to-use activities that will provide a global perspective on this important resource.

Posted by Nick Glass, Founder & Principal of

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