Why Live Near Water?


Investigate the birth of human communities in locations where land and water meet.


1. People have always settled where land and water meet. Have students examine this phenomenon and determine the many roles water serves for communities. How do rivers, lakes and oceans serve communities as sources of food and potable water, transportation routes, protection from enemies, irrigation for crops, sources of food and energy, and other roles in agricultural and manufacturing economies?

2. Have students examine maps and determine which large population centers are near rivers, lakes, coastlines, bays, waterfalls, etc. and how those water sources have served those communities. Have a class discussion, listing the multiple roles water serves for communities and determine why people selected those particular sites near water were selected for people to settle.

3. Divide the class into teams, each exploring one of the major roles that was brainstormed in the class discussion, such as "Water as Protection," "Water as Transportation," "Water as a Food Source," or "Water as a Source of Energy." Have each team research how this role has been important to different communities.

4. Have the teams use Crayola® Model Magic® modeling material to create a three-dimensional scene which demonstrates that role of water and why people live near water. Build models on cardboard bases. Use colored Model Magic or paint dry white Model Magic figures with Crayola Watercolors or Tempera Paint. Incorporate small craft items or recycled materials into the setting. Use Crayola Markers to add labels to scenes to explain the role water is serving.

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

Crayola Modeling Materials including Crayola Model Magic®, and Model Magic Fusion™, Crayola Air-Dry Clay, and Crayola Dough—

  • Keep away from open flames. Do not use to make candleholders, hot plates, trivets, or other similar objects that will be used or placed near fire and other heat sources.
  • Do not put in an oven, microwave, or kiln.
  • Do not make into vessels/containers that will hold unpackaged food.
  • The use of modeling material to make items that look like food is discouraged for children younger than age 5 to avoid their confusion with real food.
  • Unless sealed with a water-resistant glaze, do not make projects exposed to or immersed in water, such as boats or outdoor bird feeders. They would disintegrate when exposed to moisture.
  • Crayola Dough—contains gluten (wheat flour) as an ingredient.
  • Crayola Air-Dry Clay, Crayola Model Magic and Model Magic Fusion are gluten-free. However, they are produced on the same machinery as Crayola Dough which does contain gluten. Although the machines are cleaned prior to the start of each production run, there is a slight possibility that trace amounts of gluten from Crayola Dough may be present in the other modeling compound products. For information regarding specific ingredients or allergic concerns, please call our Consumer Affairs department at 1-800-272-9652 weekdays between 9 AM and 4 PM Eastern Standard Time.

Crayola Washable Paints—Not for use as body/face paint.

Wood—By its nature, wood is rough and may contain splinters or sharp points


  • Older students can explore this theme from various historic perspectives, comparing how the areas where land and water meet have been critical for ancient civilizations, colonial settlements, and modern urban areas. Take the role of a person living at the birth of an ancient, colonial, or modern urban community. Write fictional journal entries about how the settlement area was chosen and how the proximity to water impacts daily life.
  • Younger children can work together to focus on water as a transportation route. Investigate different ways people have traveled on water. Use Model Magic® to construct replicas of various modes of water transport used by ancient, colonial, and modern civilizations.

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

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crayola supplies
  • Paint Brushes
  • Markers
  • Artista II® Washable Tempera Paint
  • Model Magic®
  • Construction Paper
household supplies
  • toothpicks - wooden
  • cardboard
  • chenille sticks
  • twigs



  • Grades 1 to 3
  • Grades 4 to 6


  • Social Studies
  • Visual Arts
  • Science


  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Multiple Sessions


  • Students explore why communities settle in locations where land and water meet.

  • Students create three-dimensional models to demonstrate their understanding of the numerous needs water serves (as protection, transportation, irrigation, and a source of food).

  • Older students analyze the importance of water to ancient civilizations and colonial settlements.


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