Saving water is key to helping keep our planet healthy and conserving our resources. Getting your kids on board doesn’t have to be a constant battle.
From the basics of explaining why it’s important to save water, to fun games, books, videos, posters and other activities here are 30 terrific ways to get kids interested in helping the planet by using water wisely.
30 Ways to help kids become water conservation experts.
1. Teach them why it’s so important to save water.
This will make things a lot easier. We all do better when we understand why we are doing something, like remembering to turn off the tap when we are brushing our teeth, rather than just getting the “Because I told you to,” type of explanation.
Make your explanation age-appropriate of course. With little ones, it might be a good idea to focus on an animal they love like dolphins or sea otters or whales or polar bears or any other animal that lives in or near the water. This can be a great gateway to getting them to want to use less water and keep waterways clean.
2. Share your own story.
Talk to kids about when you first became interested in saving water. Share a story about something you learned about water conservation as a kid. This will help them understand how and why it is important to you.
3. Take them to an aquarium or zoo.
This can help kids get to know the animals they are helping by saving water and feel a connection with them. Talk about the animal ambassadors that are there in the zoo, and about their cousins who live out in the wild. Tell them about what the animals need to be healthy and survive and how water plays an important part in that.
4. Teach kids where their water comes from.
Most kids in the U.S. just know that you turn on the faucet and water comes out. It might be from a private well or a municipal well that uses groundwater or aquifers. In some places, it might be supplied from surface water like rivers, for example.
If you aren’t sure, do a little google search and if your kids are old enough they can help. For example, if you live in California this is a great resource that explains where the water for each part of the state actually comes from.
5. Be detectives.
You and your kids can be detectives and look for water leaks around your home together. There are step by step instructions on how to do this here on the Smart Home Water Guide Site. The process will help kids understand more about water and how the system works. There are even fun experiments like using food coloring dye to determine if your toilet is leaking.
6. Fix a Leak Week.
Once you find those leaks you can learn about how much water you are wasting and how much you’ll be able to save by fixing those leaks with this PDF from the EPA.
7. Calculate Water Usage.
Water usage totals are about more than just the water that comes out of the tap. For kids who are a little bit older, you might want to go through this Water Calculator together. It takes into account things like how many people are in the family, how long you leave the faucet on, how much laundry the household does and the obvious water usage things. It also helps calculate how much water goes into raising the food you eat.
This can also be a good opportunity to do some math activities and have kids measure how long it takes for a dripping faucet to fill up a quarter cup, then calculate how much water this would waste over the course of 24 hours.
8. Be a good scout.
If your kids are in Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts check to see if there is a special water conservation badge they can earn. Arizona has this badge Girl Scouts can earn. If your kids aren’t involved in scouting you can create your own criteria for them to earn a badge. MakingFriends.com has this great Save Water Badge plus suggestions on activities kids can do to earn it.
9. Read books about saving water.
Reading to and with kids is beneficial on so many different levels. So books are a wonderful choice when it comes to teaching kids about saving water and why it’s important. Here are a few choices for kids ages 4-9.
A Cool Drink of Cool Water By Barbara Kerley
This book is wonderful for 4-8 year-olds. It shows beautiful pictures (courtesy of National Geographic) of people around the world and where they get their water from. This is great for opening up discussions about water sources and how not everyone can just turn on a faucet and get clean water.
All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon
Also appropriate for 4-8-year-olds, this is a great book to read aloud or have kids read aloud to you. It’s poetic and has a fun rhythm and rhyme to the words. It talks about how the water cycle works and does a great job of getting across the message of how important and precious water is.
Water! Water! Water! by Nancy Elizabeth
This book is great for kids 6-8 years old. It’s about Walter the Warthog who is a bit of a scientist and decides to keep a journal about his observations of water. He and his friend Willa do fun experiments that kids can do along with them
The Water Princess by Susan Verde and Georgie Badiel
This story is wonderful for 5-8 year-olds. It’s actually based on a true story of supermodel Georgie Badiel’s childhood growing up in an African village and how she had to get up before sunrise to go get water for her family. It’s a beautiful story with great illustrations.
The Magic School Bus at the Water Works by Joanna Cole
I love this book! It’s great for kids ages 6-9. The illustrations are terrific and the story takes kids on a field trip through the water cycle. From the perspective of a raindrop, they travel from the sky to the land and through the waterworks all the way to their school bathroom sink. All the Magic School Bus books are just terrific and they do a great job of teaching science in a fun way!
Why Should I Save Water by Jen Green
For kids 4-7 this book helps explain why kids should turn off the tap when washing their hands or brushing their teeth. And it gives parents some great tips on how to reinforce this as well.
What On Earth?: Water: Explore, Create and Investigate by Isobel Thomas
For kids 6-9 this book is full of fun experiments and activities for kids that help them learn all about water. They’ll learn to make rain gauges and grow stalactites and all about why it’s important to conserve water.
10. Watch movies or YouTube videos about water conservation together.
This Ted Talk is a good wake-up call for older kids (and spouses who aren’t paying attention to water usage).
Do a quick search on YouTube for videos on water conservation to find ones your kids might enjoy. Then watch them together so you can share the experience and knowledge.
11. Get fun activity books on saving water.
Whether you’re on a road trip or waiting at the doctor’s office or at an airport. It’s great to be able to keep kids occupied with fun take along activities. It’s even better to be able to have them learn about water conservation in fun way while they do.
This link takes you to a free printable activity book called What do you know about H20? and this one takes you to the Water and You activity book both from The Regional Water Providers Consortium in Portland Oregon.
This link will take you to an EPA activity book for kids on water conservation.
12. Use free government resources.
In fact, the EPA has lots of fun resources to teach kids about water conservation. I’ve shared one or two above but you can find a lot more links here on the EPA website.
13. Take advantage of free programs.
One of the best ways to get kids to love the Earth and care about its health is to get them into the great outdoors. One cool way to do this is to visit national parks and federal lands.
If you have a fourth-grader (or homeschool equivalent) in your family you are in luck because the U.S. government offers a plan that lets any fourth-grader get into national parks and federal lands for free. (And 3 adults and any children under 16 can get in for free as well!) You can click here to find out more about the Every Kid Outdoors program.
14. Sell them on shorter showers.
It can be hard to get little kids to bath or shower, but at a certain age it can be hard to get kids out of the shower. So it’s important to explain how much water & energy is saved by taking shorter showers. This PDF from the EPA can help with that. It’s even got some fun math problems to calculate water usage and a word search puzzle as a bonus.
15. Get a fun shower timer or use a song.
To keep showers speedy (because a lot of us spend more time in there than we actually need to to get clean), set a timer for 5 minutes and then get out when it rings. If kids tend to dilly dally in the shower you might want to pick out two songs that are each about 2.5 minutes long. Play them near the shower and that way kids will know they are at the halfway mark when the first song is done.
16. Take the pledge.
Use this form from the EPA or one that you modify or make yourself to fit your own water usage and have everyone in the family sign it to agree to work together to save water.
17. Take advantage of Project Wet resources.
Project Wet is a great resource site for teachers and homeschoolers and it has plenty of good information for all parents who are interested in teaching their kids about conserving water as well.
18. Make posters and signs.
Work with your kids to make posters or signs to remind them to save water. If kids are old enough they can make one while you make another. This is a great way to let kids be creative and help them express some of the things they have learned about saving water and the animals it helps.
Post these reminders in prominent places, like in the bathroom near the sink (you might want to laminate the poster) so they remember to turn off the water when they are brushing their teeth, etc.
19. Have kids make up a story.
Depending on the age of your child you can have them tell you a story or write a story about how important water is and how they can save it. For little kids you can create a story together by giving them helpful ideas to start them off. “Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess who loved sea otters…” or something like that.
20. Create a water-saving superhero.
You and your kids can make up your own superhero whose job it is to save water and the planet. You can name this character, give them adventures, even create a costume to wear to represent them.
21. Show kids the cost.
If your kids are old enough to have a sense of what money is worth, and especially if they get an allowance, show them the water bill the next time it comes. It can help them get an idea from another perspective of how much it costs to waste water. Help them figure out how long it would take them to pay the bill based on their allowance. Or help them calculate how many candy bars, or whatever treat they like, they could buy with the money that is spent just on water each month.
22. Have kids help you install low flow showerheads.
If you need to install a low flow showerhead, let the kids help if they are old enough. This is usually a pretty easy project and it can help kids feel invested in and an important part of this whole “saving water” thing.
23. Fix a leaky faucet together.
This is a great project not only for saving water but because teaching kids about home maintenance tasks helps them feel more comfortable with doing it later on in life when they have a place of their own. So when the opportunity arises, let them help you make simple repairs, like fixing a leaky faucet.
If you’re a handy person then this won’t be very challenging for you. But if you’re not and want to tackle the job there are a bunch of YouTube videos out there to help. Here is one example: Fix a Leaky Faucet Video
24. Practice not turning faucets on full blast.
It’s important to turn faucets off when you aren’t using the water, like when you are brushing your teeth. But we can also get in the habit of turn faucets to just a slow trickle when we are rinsing our hands or doing other tasks that don’t require so much water. This can save a lot of water as well.
Younger children may have more trouble doing this due to less developed fine motor dexterity or faucets that are hard to adjust. So keep your expectations reasonable. But with time and practice, it will come.
25. Teach kids to wear clothes that aren’t dirty a second time.
This can be tricky because some kids want to wear their clothes for too long already. But for those other kids who put on a sweatshirt or pair of pants for an hour and then just throw them into the laundry hamper (or on their floor), it’s helpful to teach them what clothes they can wear again before washing.
If clothes aren’t dirty or smelly then they can be worn again. This can save a lot of water in terms of how many loads of laundry are washed each week.
26. Use a bath towel more than once.
If you’re clean when you use it to dry off, it’s not really dirty. If you hang bath towels so they can dry out thoroughly between uses you can use them multiple times before it they will need washing. This can easily save a full load of laundry or more each week.
Give kids a space to hang their towel and show them how to do it so it dries quickly (and avoids getting smelly).
For more great ideas on saving water when doing the laundry check out this post with lots more laundry water-saving tips.
27. Flush less.
This can be tricky with some kids as well. Sometimes we’re just grateful when they remember to flush. But if they learn the old saying, “If it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down.” Then that could save many many gallons of water in the course of a week.
Remind them that it is polite to always be sure to flush each time when they are out in public.
28. Use a pitcher.
How much water is wasted by letting the water faucet run so it gets cold? A lot! If you keep a pitcher of cold water in the refrigerator you won’t need to run the tap for so long to get that cold water that is so refreshing.
29. Have a designated cup.
If you have a specific water glass or cup for each family member they won’t always need to keep grabbing a new cup and leaving half-full cups of water around the house. This will not only save on drinking water, it will make for fewer dishes and less water needed to wash them as well.
30. Get a Star!
I was a kid who loved to get gold stars. If your child is motivated by a star or sticker on a chart, consider making a chart for saving water, recycling, and any other great environmental habits they are learning.
The positive reinforcement can keep goals in mind (for you and them) and help kids develop new habits more quickly.
You can create your own or get ideas and free printables from websites like Charts 4 Kids.
And there you have it! 30 great ways to get kids on board with saving water. What tips you use will be specific to the ages and interests of your kids, of course. But the more ways you can help them understand why it’s important for all of us to do our part in saving water (in a fun way!) the easier it will be for them to develop the good habits you want them to have.
Give yourself a gold star, too! Thank you for your interest in teaching your children about saving water and for caring about our planet. Every choice we make makes a difference!
Resources Used in this Article: