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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
  • Data

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.

  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • RI.3.7 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.4.7 Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.
  • 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.
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