Poverty Lesson Plan: Water

Time: 50-70 minutes, depending on activity chosen
Ages: 4-11, depending on activity chosen

Lesson overview and preparation

Prepare for the lesson and gather supplies.

The problem: Poor people struggle to get the water they need.
My sponsored child: Water issues might affect our family’s sponsored child.
What God says: God wants us to be compassionate toward others. We can pray for our sponsored child and other people struggling with water issues and find other ways to help them.

The Problem My Sponsored Child Activity (ages 4-7) Activity (ages 8-11) What God Says
Poverty focus: Poor people struggle to get the water they need. Sponsored child connection: Water issues might affect your family’s sponsored child. Pipes and Rivers board game

Game time: 15 minutes
Clear the Way water-filter project

Project time: 30 minutes
Bible focus: Through His Word God shows us how to care about poor people and others who don’t have all their needs met. Memory verse: Proverbs 19:17
Supplies: Stopwatch or phone timer Supplies: World Map Supplies: Pipes and Rivers printable Supplies:
• plastic water bottle
• scissors
• 2 coffee filters
• sand
• gravel/pebbles
• rocks
• water
Supplies: Bible
Prep (optional): Read “Water Facts” (3-minute read) for extra context. Prep: Find your sponsored child’s country on the World Map. Prep: Print out the Pipes and Rivers printable and read the “How to Play” box. Prep: Open the Clear the Way project in your internet browser or print out the PDF. Prep: none

The Problem

Discussion and exercise, 10 minutes

You say: Today we’ll learn why many kids around the world don’t have the water they need for drinking, bathing, cooking and cleaning. We’ll also do an activity about water.

Do you know what poverty is? [Wait for answers.] People who live in poverty are poor, which means they don’t have all their needs met. Can you list some things that everyone needs to live a happy, healthy life? [Wait for answers.]

Everybody needs water to live. When you get thirsty, where do you get water? [Wait for answers.] Do you get sick from drinking the water? [Wait for answers.] In our country, we have clean water right in our homes. But in many countries, poor children don’t have clean water in their homes. So they walk an hour or more every day just to get the water their families need. They go to wells or water faucets or even streams to get water. Sometimes that water isn’t even clean and they need to boil it to make it safe to drink.

Application: Let’s see how long it takes you to get a cup, fill it with clean water at the nearest faucet, and get back to your seat. [Set timer or count while you help children get a glass of water. Then tell them how long it took.]

You say: Can you think of other ways our family uses water every day? [Wait for answers, and then add any that aren’t mentioned: cooking, taking baths, washing dishes, cleaning the house.]

For our sponsored child, [say sponsored child’s name], getting water is probably not as easy as turning on a faucet. Let’s find out why.

My Sponsored Child

Discussion and application, 10 minutes

You say: Do you remember what country [name sponsored child] lives in? [Wait for answers/tell them if they don’t know.] Let’s check out a map. [Go to our World Map.]

Application for ages 4-7: Here’s where we live [point], and here’s where [sponsored child’s name] lives. Can you click [or tap] on the country where [sponsored child’s name] lives? [Allow time.]

Application for ages 8-11: Let’s find [sponsored child’s country] on the map. I’ll show you the continent, and then you find the country and click [or tap] on it. [Click on the region — Africa, Asia, Central America and the Caribbean, or South America — where your child lives. Wait for child to find the country.]

You say: Good. What do you notice about [country]? [Wait for answers such as “it’s small,” “it’s far away from us,” etc.] Is it bigger or smaller than our country? [Wait for answers.] Is it north or south of our country?

Many people who live in that region of the world are poor. One problem they face is the struggle to get water. Let’s see what life might be like for [sponsored child’s name] growing up in that area.


[Sponsored child’s country] is part of a region of the world called [name region: Africa, Asia, Central America, the Caribbean or South America]. Let’s learn a little more about how kids in that region get water.

If your sponsored child lives in Africa, you say: Many families in Africa don’t have running water at home. They get their water from rivers, ponds, lakes, wells, or shops that sell bottled water. Water from lakes, rivers and unprotected wells contains dangerous germs. Bottled water is clean, but poor families can’t always afford it. In Africa, women and children are usually the ones who collect water for their families. Many of them walk for at least 30 minutes — or sometimes for hours — every day to get the water they need.

If your sponsored child lives in Asia, you say: In Asia, diarrhea and pneumonia kill more kids than any other sicknesses. Poor kids often get diarrhea from germs in dirty water. Many poor cities in Asia don’t have sewage services like we have. So sewage runs in the streets where children play. Many families don’t have indoor toilets, so they go to the bathroom outside or share germy bathrooms with lots of people in their neighborhoods. All those germs can make people very sick.

If your sponsored child lives in Central America or the Caribbean: People who live outside of cities in Central America and the Caribbean usually don’t have running water at home. Some of them get water from rivers, ponds and lakes, which contains dangerous germs. People who live in Caribbean cities usually buy bottled water, which is clean and won’t make them sick. But many poor families don’t have enough money to buy bottled water.

If your sponsored child lives in South America: Some people who live in the cities of South America have running water at home. It comes through pipes and out their faucets just like in our home. But their water isn’t safe to drink like most water from faucets here. It has germs that make people sick to their stomachs. They have to boil the water for at least five minutes to kill all the germs. Many poor families don’t have enough money to buy clean bottled water.


Afterward, you say: Kids who drink dirty water can get so sick with diarrhea that they die. Compassion sponsors like us help protect [sponsored child’s name] from dirty water. At their Compassion centers, sponsored kids learn to never drink unfiltered water. They get clean water and nutritious meals. If they do get sick, Compassion helps them get medicine. And in some villages where water is far away, Compassion works with local churches to build wells of clean water by sponsored kids’ homes. In some places, Compassion offers bottled water to families of sponsored children at low prices they can afford.

Write On!

Next time your family writes a letter to you sponsored child, ask where his or her family gets water.


Game or science project, 10-30 minutes

Ages 4-7: Pipes and Rivers board game (10-15 minutes)
Before you begin: Print out the Pipes and Rivers printable. Gameplay is similar to Chutes and Ladders.
You say: It’s time for a fun activity to learn even more about water around the world! [Read the intro paragraph and instructions out loud, then play the game with your child.]

Ages 8-11: Clear the Way water-filter project (30 minutes)
Before you begin: Pull up the Clear the Way page on your internet browser or print out the project printable. Gather the supplies.
You say: It’s time for a fun activity to learn even more about water around the world! [Read the activity intro paragraph, and then follow the instructions with your child to complete the project. Afterward, read the “What Happened” section out loud.]

What God Says

Memory verse and prayer, 5-7 minutes

You say: Now that you know how poor kids struggle just to get water, let’s find out what the Bible says about it. The Bible includes lots of instructions about caring for people in need. Let’s learn a Bible verse about being compassionate toward others. Then we’ll pray for people in need and ask God for ideas to help.

Repeat this Bible verse after me …

Shortened memory verse for ages 4-7: “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,” Proverbs 19:17. [Wait for child to repeat, then say it again and have child repeat it again.]

Memory verse for ages 8-11: “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done,” Proverbs 19:17. [Wait for child to repeat, then say it again and ask child to repeat it again.]

You say: Whoever is kind to the poor lends to whom? [Wait for child to answer “the LORD”]. Now repeat the whole verse after me. [Repeat verse, and then wait for child to repeat.]

Now let’s pray for [sponsored child’s name] and other children living in poverty. [If your children are used to leading prayers out loud, they might want to say their own prayer. Otherwise read the following prayer out loud.]

Dear God, thank You for blessing our family with all the clean water we need. I pray for poor kids who are sick from dirty water. Please make them healthy and help them get the clean water they need. Please give me ideas for how I can help poor people. In Jesus’ name, Amen.