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Watershed Ways

Everybody in the world lives in a watershed. Where does the rain mainly drain where you live? Follow the water all the way to the sea!

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. About 70% of the Earth's surface is covered with water, and only about 1% is fresh water. Most of that 1% is found in polar ice. As part of the natural water cycle, precipitation of fresh water comes to the Earth. Most is soaked into the ground (infiltration) or enters surface waters (runoff). Find out more about water usage issues in your area.
    2. A watershed is all the land area from which water drains into a particular stream or river. Research the watershed you live in, from the small watershed area that may lead to a local small stream to the larger watershed that may lead to a major river and then on to an ocean.
    3. Trace the waterways! Obtain a road map or trail map of your area. Use a Blue Crayola Washable Marker to trace major rivers and smaller streams. Find out which streams flow into which rivers. Where does the water finally reach an ocean?
    4. Predict the watersheds! Use Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils to outline and label areas that you think might drain water to a particular stream. Use a different color for each area that drains into each stream. Which watersheds together drain into larger bodies of water?
    5. Check out your predictions! Find out about the actual watersheds. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site is a great place to visit. Erase and revise your watershed predictions if you need to. Use Washable Markers to label and brightly shade each watershed area. Add arrows to major rivers and streams to show in which direction the water flows. Compare your predictions and findings with those of your classmates.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grade level text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    LA: Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.

    LA: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade level reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

    SCI: Identify evidence from patterns in rock formations and fossils in rock layers to support an explanation for changes in a landscape over time.

    SCI: Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    SS: Describe and speculate about physical system changes, such as seasons, climate and weather, and the water cycle.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Watershed Conservation (Global Perspectives) by Pam Rosenberg; Divides and Watersheds (Reading Essentials in Science) by Karen Bledsoe

    Students work in small groups to create a topographic map demonstrating how and why water flows the way it does over the land in their area. Use Crayola Model Magic and recycled cardboard for this 3-D model.

    Organize a field trip to the local watershed area and the waterways that receive the drainage. Students use digital cameras to photograph each waterway and the surrounding land areas. Upon returning to the classroom, students create a booklet for the photos; add a 1-2 explanation for each photograph describing the scene.

    What is the Environmental Protection Agency? Students investigate this government agency and its purpose when first organized. How has its mission changed?


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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