Watershed Ways

Watershed Ways lesson plan

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!

  • 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 <EM>watershed</EM> 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.

    <STRONG>Trace the waterways!</STRONG> Obtain a road map or trail map of your area. Use a Blue Wave Crayola 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.

    <STRONG>Predict the watersheds!</STRONG> 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.

    <STRONG>Check out your predictions!</STRONG> 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 Color Wave M


  • Students connect the water cycle concept with local fresh water availability and consumption.
  • Students identify waterways in their own region.
  • Students define, predict, research, and map local watershed areas.
  • Students research the positive effects that watersheds have on global warming.


  • Create topographic maps to demonstrate how and why water flows the way it does over the land in your area. Research the topography. Use crumpled newspaper and masking tape to create a replica of local topography on a map glued to cardboard. Spray water on
  • Plan field trips to visit your local watershed areas and the waterways that receive the drainage. Take photographs of each waterway and surrounding land areas. Create a display that identifies some of the features and issues that affect your community.
  • Assessment: Ask children to imagine they are raindrops. Tell them where they fall (town, roadway, or a point of latitude and longitude). Ask them to identify in which watersheds they fall. Trace the drainage path from the small stream to large waterway and all the way to the sea on a map.