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What is stormwater?

About this lesson

Children gain an awareness of what stormwater is, where it leads and how it needs to be looked after.

Year level: EC

Theme: Stormwater and waterways

Learning objectives

Students can:
  • gain an awareness of where stormwater goes
  • gain an awareness of what a stormwater drain is and why we have them
  • gain an awareness of items that are 'pollution' and should not enter stormwater drains.

Curriculum links

Early Years Learning Framework
  • Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world. Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment.
  • Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners. Children develop a range of skills processes such as problem solving, inquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating.
  • Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators. Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media.

Things you will need

Activity 1 – Understanding stormwater drainage

  • Boxes, straws, pipes, containers of various sizes
  • Glue or sticky tape
  • Paint

Activity 2 – Protecting stormwater drainage

Lesson description

Activity 1 – Understanding stormwater drainage


  • Take the children for a walk around the building to locate all the stormwater drainage structures. Look at downpipes, gutters, grates, pipes and open drains. Explain that this is called stormwater drainage. Discuss why we have these structures and ask them where the water might go.
  • Explain that water going down these structures leads underground through pipes that lead directly to wetlands, rivers and oceans.
  • Have a look at any material that has collected around the grates. Point out that some things are too big to go through. Look at the items that are around the drain, what type of things are they?


  • Make individual models or a class model of a drainage system showing how rainwater travels from the outside of a building, down pipes, through a stormwater drain to a river, wetland or ocean.
  • Use a variety of boxes, straws, pipes, and containers to represent homes, pipes, drains and water bodies such as a lake or wetland. Children may want to paint the model/s if there is time.

Reflect & summarise

  • Ask children to talk about the model/s. Ask them to explain where the rainwater travels from and to.
  • Remind children that stormwater travels from the outside of a building, through a stormwater drain to a river, wetland or ocean.

Activity 2 – Protecting stormwater drainage


  • Use the activity sheet or poster to explain that drains in the street are also a part of the stormwater drainage system. Discuss why it is important not to let rubbish, oil, fertiliser, detergents and paint enter the system. Explain that these items are pollution.
  • In the container combine water with the 'pollutants'. Cut fish out of plastic and place them in the water. Lift the fish from the water and let the children feel the pollutants on them; discussing what it feels like.
  • Talk about how fish and other animals might be affected by the pollution.


Ask children to draw a picture of things that are harmful to fish and animals if they enter lakes or wetlands.

Reflect & summarise

Ask children to tell you about their picture.

Extension activities

Children colour in the activity sheet.

Teacher background information

Water is continually being used, reused and returned to the water cycle. Much of this water re-enters the cycle through natural means such as evaporation, and runoff into streams and rivers. Stormwater is collected by the drainage system and carried to infiltration basins, rivers, wetlands and the ocean. In WA, local municipal councils and Water Corporation are responsible for these systems.

Did you know?

By washing your car on the grass, rather than the driveway or road, you will help stop detergents entering the stormwater drain.

Key vocabulary

  • Downpipe: A pipe that directs water from a roof gutter down into a storm drain
  • Drain: An above or below ground channel or pipe that conveys stormwater to a natural water body
  • Pollution: The addition of harmful things to the environment
  • Storm water: Surface water caused by rain
  • Waterway: A channel of water
  • Wetland: A low area where the land is saturated with water