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Brush your teeth the waterwise way!

About this lesson

Students learn how easily they can save water every day when brushing their teeth.

Year level: F, EC

Theme: Water conservation

Learning objectives

Students can:
  • observe how much water is used when the tap is left running
  • engage in discussion about saving water
  • represent their ideas through drawing.

Curriculum links

Early Years Learning Framework

  • Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world.
  • Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners.
  • Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators. Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media.


  • Respond to questions about familiar objects and events ACSIS014
  • Explore and make observations by using the senses ACSIS011
  • Engage in discussions about observations and use methods such as drawing to represent ideas ACSIS233

Things you will need

  • Toothbrush
  • 3 x 2 litre clear bottles filled with water (ensure all labels are removed)
  • 1 large bucket (more than 6 litres)
  • Small cup with water in it

Lesson description


How much water do you think is wasted if the tap is left running while brushing your teeth?

  • Explain why we need to save water.
  • What do we use water for? Write ideas on the board.
  • What is one of the things we do when we get up in the morning? We brush our teeth and turn on the tap. We then stand their brushing our teeth for approximately 2 minutes.
  • Do you know how much water goes down the drain if we leave the tap running?
  • Take out one of the 2L bottles and explain that there are 2 litres of water in each bottle. Ask do you think this much water is wasted? Do you think it is more?
  • Bring out another bottle, do you think it is this much? Do you think it is more?
  • Bring out the final bottle.
  • How much water is that altogether? Pour each bottle into the bucket and explain that when we leave the tap running we waste approximately 6 litres of water. Have the children come up and look at how much water that is. Discuss.
  • Finally, show a small cup of water. This is all the water you need to rinse your teeth after you have brushed them. Explain that they can fill up the cup and turn off the tap. Line up the cup with the bucket and compare the difference in the amount of water used and wasted. Discuss.

Note: Explain to students that you are not going to waste the water by pouring it down the drain; you are going to reuse the water by pouring it onto plants in the school garden.


Students draw a picture of themselves turning off the tap while they brush their teeth. They can add water saving words to their picture e.g. ‘I save water by turning off the tap while I brush my teeth’.

Reflect & summarise

Extension activities

Teacher background information

Conserving water
Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water (97% is held in oceans), and only 1% of this is available for human needs. We need this 1% for our survival, for our health and to grow our food.

By reducing our water use, we can ensure the sustainability of water supply for the future. At the same time, we will be saving money by delaying the development of expensive new supply sources, saving energy and reducing the impact on the environment.

Ways to save water at school are to:

  • turn off taps
  • report leaking taps to the school office
  • wash paintbrushes in an ice-cream container, instead of under a running tap
  • use waterwise gardening principles in the school garden
  • use water-efficient appliances, such as dual-flush toilets.

Ways to save water inside the home are to:

  • turn off taps and check for leaks
  • take shorter showers
  • only half fill the bath
  • make sure washing machines and dishwashers are fully loaded before use
  • use water-efficient appliances e.g. toilets, showers and washing machines.

Ways to save water outside the home are to:

  • use a bucket of water to wash the car instead of a hose
  • use correct sprinklers and timers
  • reduce the amount of time the reticulation runs
  • turn off reticulation systems in winter and when it is raining
  • turn your garden into a waterwise garden.

Did you know?

Leaving the tap on when you brush your teeth can waste 6 litres of water.

Key vocabulary