Grade level: K-4 (Approximately age range: 5-9 years old)
Objectives: Through this activity, students will understand
that rivers can be polluted and that students' actions can make a difference in the water
quality of rivers.
Relevant U.S. National Geography Standards: 14, 16,
Materials: River system diagram
Show students the river system diagram and discuss the different components. Ask them
where they think they are located within a river system. Ask students to define litter.
HAve them name items of litter. List the items on the blackboard. Ask, What eventually
happens to litter? Help students define 'pollutants' and name different pollutants. Wher
ehave students seen litter? Could litter or pollutants pose a problem for rivers?
Now, turn you class into a 'human river.' Have each studen select one article (paper,
book, pencil, etc.) to represent a pollutant. Arrange students in a river pattern. 'Tributary'
students lead into a line of 'river' students, with an 'ocean' student at the end of
the line. Beginning with students at the 'source,' have students pass their article to
the next student, and so on, until the 'ocean' student holds everything. Students could
say things such as, 'I'm a dairy farmer, and my drtilizer pollutes the river,' or 'I'm
a power plant, and I'm heating the river water.' How did the students toward the middle
and end feel?
Remind students that pollution comes in different forms and from different places, but
it could all end up down a drain, where it threatens your river. Encourage students to
get involved in keeping rivers clean.
Human river (Adobe PDF document)