Lessons: Air

California Water Story

Respect Rule: Look, Listen, Learn, and Leave Alone (until instructed).


Water is one of California’s most precious natural resources. It is also nonrenewable. Therefore, it is vital that students learn scientific facts about water, but also the place of water in California’s history and its importance in California’s economy.


For thousands of years, the native peoples were good stewards of California’s water using this valuable resource for agriculture, transportation, and food. Their lives and homes were established near the more isolated watersheds. Upon the Europeans’ arrival into the area, the complexion of the landscape and the use of water changed, sometimes slowly, as in the movement of mission life, or quickly, as during the Gold Rush. Because of the distribution of water throughout the state of California, it is vital that all Californians accept responsibility for its protection. By viewing the video, The History of Water Use in California, one begins to understand that everyone who lives or works in the same watershed is connected to everything else living or growing in it.

Video Activity

Activity 1: The History of Water Use in California
Time: 45 minutes
Materials: Video and video script of The History of Water Use in California, California’s Water History Student Worksheet, KWL Assessment Worksheet, digital camera, computer, PowerPoint software

  1. Work on the KWL assessment with the students using the video script.
  2. View video and have students complete student worksheet while viewing.
  3. Continue to complete and discuss the KWL assessment.
  4. Make a PowerPoint on the local history of water. Assign team or individual student a frame from the video. Have students take digital pictures of local sites that depict their frame. Combine pictures to make a PowerPoint presentation on the local community’s water story.
  5. Present to school and or local history society or enter as an exhibit in county fair.


Student will:

  1. recognize that California has changed over time and that water has been central to that change;
  2. create a PowerPoint of the student’s local water story.

Grade Levels


Adult/Student Ratio

Whole Class


In the classroom to view a video as a segue to the study of California’s water.


Sequencing of events, drawing conclusions, comparing, contrasting

Downloads [PDF]

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