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Activity 5: River Scene - Whose Water Is It?

Activity time: 8 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • River Scene mural (Workshop 1, Activity 2)
  • Rulers or tape measures
  • Yarn or string, masking tape and scissors
  • Optional: Step-stools

Preparation for Activity

  • Retrieve the group's River Scene if it is not already posted.
  • Decide how you will form small groups and how many you will have.
  • Cut a length of yarn or string that can cover your River Scene mural top to bottom. Cut additional pieces of the same length-two pieces for each group you will ask to set boundaries. (If you wish to allow groups to use wiggly boundary lines, cut the yarn or string much longer.)
  • Measure the length of your River Scene. Divide that number by the number of small groups you will have to calculate how many inches of River Scene you can invite each small group to claim.

Description of Activity

Ask the group if anyone knows who owns the water they use. Say, if no one does, that towns, states and regions that build pipelines and treatment plants to provide clean water to their residents might consider that water "theirs." In fact, participants' families probably pay taxes or other fees to use that water. If a family or a village uses a well to pump water up as it flows by, underground, they might say that water belongs to them.

Now say:

Let's see what ownership of water could mean, using our River Scene.

Form small groups and distribute two lengths of yarn, a ruler and some pieces of masking tape to each group. Tell them how many inches of the River Scene each small group can claim. Say:

What if each group could own part of the river? Use your yarn (or string) to mark off a boundary for the part of the river your group will claim as theirs. Remember these boundaries are temporary-just for today. Be careful not to tape over any artwork on the River Scene.

Invite groups to claim their part of the River Scene by taping their yarn boundaries with masking tape. Then have everyone return to their seats.

Offer these questions for discussion:

  • How did it feel to claim parts of the river for your group?
  • What did you gain; what did you lose?
  • Did this activity create any tension or conflict?
  • Does it make sense for people to own a river? Why or why not?

Including All Participants

If the River Scene is posted too high for all participants to reach above it, lower the River Scene on the wall, or place it on a table or the floor.

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For more information contact religiouseducation@uua.org.

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