Introduction | How Does Water Get In and Out of Rivers?
Who Needs Rivers? | Hold Rivers and Lakes in Your Hand!

The purpose of this activity is to make a model that shows how rivers and lakes are connected in a watershed.

Make it happen
1. Crumple the piece of paper into a ball. Gently open up the paper but don’t smooth it out, and hold it in the palm of your hand. Think of the highest points of the paper as mountaintops and the lowest wrinkles as valleys.
2. Use your blue marker to draw where you think creeks, rivers, and lakes might be in this landscape.
3. Now, see what happens when it rains on the map! Use your bottle to spray your map. Don’t spray too much, or your map will get soggy. Spray just enough to get water moving through the watershed!

What’s happening?
Did the water go where you expected?
How many rivers formed? How many lakes?

The way water moves through rivers and lakes depends on the shape of the land! A watershed is the area where rivers and lakes are connected. In a watershed, all streams and rivers come together into one body of water like a larger river, lake, or reservoir. Mountains or other high ridges may separate some rivers in your map. These rivers are in different watersheds. If all the rivers come together in your map you’ll have one watershed.

(Adapted from River of Words, Teacher’s Guide, 1996. International Rivers Network)