Earth Matters
The Water Cycle and Rivers

In these model-making sessions, children will learn about the water cycle, rivers and the effect they have on the landscape. They will look at how rain finds its way into rivers and how rivers develop from the source to entering the sea.

Session 1 The water cycle

Objectives

Geography

  • Children should be able to describe and understand key aspects of physical geography, including rivers and the water cycle.

Science

  • Children should demonstrate that changes of state are reversible changes.

Teaching and Activities

Recreate the water cycle and its features in a simple experiment.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To understand and identify the features of the water cycle.
  • To recreate the water cycle in a simple experiment.

Children will:

  • Understand and identify the features of the water cycle.
  • Understand and use the vocabulary associated with the water cycle.
  • Recreate the water cycle in a simple experiment.

You Will Need

  • A camera
  • Each group will need: A large transparent bowl, a small transparent bowl, hot water, a few cubes of ice, spoon, cling film, salt

Session 2 How do rivers get their water?

Objectives

Geography

  • Children should be able to describe and understand key aspects of physical geography, including rivers and the water cycle.

Design and Technology

  • To make by selecting from a range of materials, according to their functional properties and aesthetic qualities.

Teaching and Activities

Recreate a mountain range (river source); learn about watershed and the terms associated with water travelling to rivers.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To understand the watershed and the effect of terrain and pollutants on the environment.
  • To recreate a mountain range in order to demonstrate the water cycle.

Children will:

  • Understand the role of watersheds in the collection and movement of precipitation into rivers and lakes.
  • Use, with understanding, the terms associated with water travelling to rivers and discuss how pollutants travel in water and impact the environment.

You Will Need

  • Plastic containers (yoghurt pots, small bottles, etc.)
  • Plastic polythene sheeting (carrier bag or green bin liner)
  • Spray bottles filled with water
  • Glitter or food colouring
  • A camera

Session 3 From source to sea part 1

Objectives

Geography

  • Children should be able to describe and understand key aspects of physical geography, including rivers and the water cycle.

Design and Technology

  • To make by selecting from a range of materials, according to their functional properties and aesthetic qualities

Teaching and Activities

Make a model showing a river’s source and a V-shaped valley; begin to identity the different stages of a river from sea to source.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To locate rivers on a map and identify the different stages, from sea to source
  • To create a river’s source and V-shaped valley from Modroc

Children will:

  • Identify the sources of rivers on mountain moorlands and understand how tributaries feed into a fast flowing river.
  • Understand how the fast flowing river water erodes the rock beneath and causes a V-shaped valley, often with interlocking spurs.
  • Label the features of a young river and its landscape on a Modroc model.

You Will Need

  • Modroc
  • Scissors
  • Bowls of water
  • Scrap paper
  • Tape
  • Trays
  • Tissue paper (greens, browns, blues)
  • PVA glue

Session 4 From source to sea part 2

Objectives

Geography

  • Children should be able to describe and understand key aspects of physical geography, including rivers and the water cycle.

Design and Technology

  • To make by selecting from a range of materials, according to their functional properties and aesthetic qualities.

Teaching and Activities

Make a mature, meandering river and floodplain out of modroc in order to consolidate your knowledge of the different stages of a river.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To locate mature rivers on a map and identify the different stages of a river.
  • To create a mature, meandering river out of Modroc.

Children will:

  • Identify mature rivers and their floodplains and understand that mature rivers feed into the sea.
  • Understand how the different flow-speeds of a mature river erode the bank and deposit sediment, creating meandering bends and sometimes ox-bow lakes.
  • Label the features of a mature river and its landscape on a Modroc model.

You Will Need

  • Modroc
  • Scissors
  • Bowls of water
  • Scrap paper
  • Tape
  • Trays
  • Tissue paper (greens, browns, blues)
  • PVA glue
  • A camera

Session 5 Living on a floodplain

Objectives

Geography

  • Children should be able to describe and understand key aspects of physical geography, including rivers and the water cycle.

Teaching and Activities

Finish the block by discussing how human activity affects floodplains and understand the importance of flood management systems.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To discuss the effects of human impact on floodplains and understand the importance of flood management systems.

Children will:

  • Discuss the effects of human impact on floodplain.
  • Understand the importance of flood management systems and discuss how to improve life on a floodplain.

Provided Resources

This session does not need any provided resources.

You Will Need

  • Copies of photographs of the floodplains of the children’s Modroc models
  • Play dough
  • Monopoly houses
  • Pipe cleaners