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Photo by Ahmad El-Shabory via Pixabay

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3rd, 4th, 5th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Artwork
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables

Regional Focus


Salt Water and Freshwater Distribution on Earth

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  • These illustrations show how much of the Earth's water is freshwater, how much of that freshwater is from lakes and rivers, and all the different types of freshwater on Earth.
  • Students learn that most water on Earth is saltwater, only a sliver of the Earth's freshwater is from lakes and rivers, and freshwater comes in various forms such as groundwater, glaciers, and water vapor.
Teaching Tips


  • The illustrations are easy to understand and visually engaging.
  • The illustrations can be downloaded as a PNG file.

Additional Prerequisites

  • In order to download the illustrations, you need to sign up for a free PBS LearningMedia account.
  • It may be helpful if students already know the difference between saltwater and freshwater.


  • Teachers can use these illustrations as a conceptual introduction to ice caps, glaciers, the importance of these freshwater sources, and what's happening to these sources in recent years.
  • These illustrations can supplement a classroom activity where students investigate different types of marine life.
  • These illustrations can enhance a classroom discussion about the scarcity of freshwater and the importance of having clean water in our communities.
  • These illustrations can augment a lesson on man-made lakes and other ways that humans try to control water sources.
  • Consider using the illustrations to introduce the lesson Importance of Conserving Water.
Scientist Notes

This resource is from the CLEAN collection. “The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness.”


This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • 4-ESS2-2. Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features.
      • 5-ESS2-2. Describe and graph the amounts of salt water and fresh water in various reservoirs to provide evidence about the distribution of water on Earth.
  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • RI.MF.3.6 Use information gained from text features (e.g., illustrations, maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).
      • RI.MF.4.6 Use evidence to show how graphics and visuals (e.g., illustrations, charts, graphs, diagrams, timelines, animations) support central ideas.
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