Topic: Water

3rd Grade, Art & Literacy Curriculum Set



Students learn about how graphic designers can advocate through design: they learn about water problems around the world (pollution, access, and overuse), and look at and analyze ways that graphic designers have brought attention to this issue through their design. 

Teachers can then decide whether or not students will research the same subject (e.g., water), or individually choose topics that they feel strongly about. Students then become graphic designers; they design a poster simplifying their issue into an easily digestible poster using the elements of movement, emphasis, and balance. 

© info: Doodles Academy presents both public domain artworks and works that are protected by copyright in their videos and lessons. The latter are used in accordance with fair use principle, as the images are only being used for educational purposes. If you are the copyright holder of the work of art used for and do not agree that the use of your image is a fair use, please contact us by email.



  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • 9×12” watercolor paper
  • Permanent marker
  • *Gouache paint in the primary colors (red/magenta, cyan/blue, yellow) + white & black, optional brown, palettes, water, rags, water cup, brushes in a variety of sizes


(L1)colored pencils (see early finishers) 

(L2) Lined paper (see anticipated problems)

(L3) (highly recommended): shape making tools such as a compass, pattern blocks, etc., shape templates, alphabet stencils in a variety of sizes 

*Note: you can use acrylic, or tempera if you already have some, although both of these will dry a lot slower, not dry quite as ‘flat’, and risk more bleeding of color. If you use them, emphasize that students should allow each shape to dry before painting next to it in order to maintain crisp shapes and edges. 


-Optional, Lesson 1: (see synopsis) Have a selection of materials students can reference to gather water-related facts.

The following books are good for researching water facts: 

-Optional, Lesson 2: Have computers or tablets on hand for students to research facts about their subject (or make the library available). 


-Lesson 1:

-Lesson 2: 

-Lesson 3: 

-Lesson 4: Color Schemes Handout—Students can share these in groups (they are for reference). 



These are optional and, if using the videos to teach, unnecessary. If you are teaching the lessons without showing the videos, you’ll need to gather these resources to successfully illustrate the lesson concepts. 

-Lesson 1: Examples of Charity:Water’s poster design. 

-Lesson 2: Examples of simple graphic design posters. 

-Lesson 3: N/A

-Lesson 4/5: If not using the video introduction, make sure to have examples of a poster with a warm and cool color palettes, and cool color palettes with different emphasis’ (1, 2, 3).  If using the video summary, this is unnecessary. 


Text Set:

Text Sets support all learners, especially those with background knowledge or vocabulary deficits, by building up these domains through a volume of reading on Science, Social Studies, and other high-interest topics. You can learn more about building and using text sets here. 

The texts listed below have been pulled from,, El Education modules, and resources referenced in text sets from based on their connection to the topics addressed in this lesson.  Texts listed are at a variety of reading levels and could be read aloud or printed/provided for students to read, depending on the needs of the readers in your classroom. These texts are not integrated into the lessons; they are an optional extension and listed here as a reference for educators interested in building their student’s background knowledge around the project’s core topic. 

ISBN/Website  Title  Author Type What’s the Big Idea about Water? Protecting Our Water   American Museum of Natural History Article/non-fiction Almost 1 billion people don’t have clean water, a report finds. Readworks  Article/non-fiction Rising Water: How Climate Is Affecting Coastal Areas Readworks Article/non-fiction A New Play Talks About the Water Crisis in Flint, Michigan By Associated Press, adapted by Newsela staff Article/non-fiction Mr. Trash Wheel cleans up Baltimore Harbor with a dash of humor By PBS News Hour, adapted by Newsela staff Article/non-fiction Marathon swimmer crosses the Pacific to fight plastic pollution By Washington Post, adapted by Newsela staff Article/non-fiction Big glob of trash hurts animals and the sea By Los Angeles Times, adapted by Newsela staf Article/non-fiction Deep-sea shellfish test positive for plastic in their stomachs By Matthew Taylor, The Guardian, adapted by Newsela staff Article/non-fiction
0986949590 A Good Trade by Alma Fullerton Book/fiction
1596435771 Clean Water (Sally Ride Science) by Beth Geiger Book/non-fiction
1426303602 Not a Drop to Drink: Water for a Thirsty World by Michael Burgan Book/non-fiction
0805089411 Our World of Water: Children and Water Around the World by Beatrice Hollyer Book/non-fiction
*see also the texts listed as ‘optional’ within the Books/Media part of the lesson. While these are incorporated into the lesson itself as an optional extension, they would make useful additions to a text set. 


Tier 2 (academic vocabulary) words appear in many different contexts and are often subtle or precise ways to say relatively simple things, for example “relative” or “accumulate”. We’ve determined several rich Tier 2 vocabulary used in this lesson by analyzing the language used in the project’s video lessons through Achieve the Core’s ‘Academic Word Finder’. Vocabulary instruction is critical for students as they develop reading, writing, and oral language skills.  We recommend supporting students’ understanding of these words by using them in conversation, reinforcing them in discussion, and encouraging student use of new words, More information is available here.  

Access the full file, with definitions, here. 

  • Crisis
  • Charity
  • Persuade
  • Communication
  • Community
  • Convince
  • Information
  • Visual
  • Position
  • Mock
  • Examine
  • Sketch
  • Inspire
  • Image
  • Shape
  • Object
  • Technique


Tier 3 words are vocabulary words that address specific content in the lessons, or are related to the Visual Arts. Tier 3 words are central to building knowledge and conceptual understanding within the various academic domains should be used and reinforced throughout the teaching of these lessons.

  • Advocate
  • Graphic Design/Graphic Designer
  • Brainstorm
  • Mock-up
  • Emphasis
  • Balance
  • Movement





SL.3.1b Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions  

SL.3.2 Determine the main ideas and supporting details of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally

(Lessons 1- 4: discussing the inspiration image, Lessons 1-5: student artwork presentations)

SL.3.1c Ask questions to check understanding of information presented, stay on topic, and link their comments to the remarks of others. 

SL.3.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

(Lesson 5: student artwork presentations)  


 W.3.2d Provide a concluding statement or section.

 (Lesson 5: writing an artist statement)

W.3.1b Provide reasons that support the opinion. 

 W.3.2b Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details.

 (Lessons 2-5: researching an ‘idea web’ of facts to support their advocacy campaign)



  • Science
Connect to units on environmental studies, or Geology units 
  • Language Arts
Connect to any unit where students are studying water and the environment
  • Social Studies 
Connect to units exploring contemporary access to water and sanitation (for example, in the U.S., see the Flint water crisis). 


Core Content are common topics used all across America to address Social Studies and Science standards. This project supports the following core content in science:

Earth Science

• Materials of Earth 


EL Education ( ) is an open-source literacy curriculum. 

This art project supports the ideas and learning in the following EL Education Domains:


Module 4

The Role of Freshwater around the World

This module focuses on the importance of clean freshwater around the world. Students continue to build their geography and map-reading skills (begun in Module 1) by studying where water is found on earth. They examine the water cycle and watersheds, comparing how different texts present similar information. Then students research challenges facing the earth’s clean water supply: pollution, access, and the demand for water. Students develop opinions about what they can do to conserve, protect, or provide access to clean water, and then create a public service announcement (PSA). 



Anchor Standard 1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.

VA:Cr1.1.3a: Elaborate on an imaginative idea.

VA:Cr1.2.3a: Apply knowledge of available resources, tools, and technologies to investigate personal ideas through the art-making process.

(lessons 1-5, building a final artwork from brainstorms and mock-ups) 


Anchor Standard 3: Refine and complete artistic work.

VA:Cr3.1.5a: Create artist statements using art vocabulary to describe personal choices in artmaking.

(lesson 5, writing and artist statement) 


Anchor Standard 7: Perceive and analyze artistic work

VA:Re.7.1.3a: Speculate about processes an artist uses to create a work of art..

VA:Re.7.2.3a: Determine messages communicated by an image.

(Lessons 1- 4: discussing the inspiration image, Lessons 1-5: student artwork presentations)

Anchor Standard 8: Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.

VA:Re8.1.3a : Interpret art by analyzing use of media to create subject matter, characteristics of form, and mood.

(Lessons 1- 4: discussing the inspiration image)

Anchor Standard 9: Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work.

VA:Re9.1.3a : VA:Re8.1.1a :Evaluate an artwork based on given criteria.

(Lessons 1-5: student artwork presentations)


shape/form, color


movement, balance, emphasis

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