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A river puzzle!

Every river has a beginning and an end, but a lot of different things can go on in between! The things we do in a watershed—the area drained by a river—can affect the health of rivers.

Your challenge
Make a healthy river that everyone can live with
for a long, long time!
(Click here for instructions)


  • Print this page. Then cut out the puzzle pieces or ask a grownup for help.
  • Put the SOURCE piece (the beginning of a river) near the top of a big sheet of construction paper and the Mouth piece (a river's end) near the bottom.
  • Sort the other pieces into categories: nature, urban, agricultural, industry, recreation, power.

How to plan your river
Consider how each activity or use along a river could affect people, animals, and plants downstream (in the direction of, or closer to, the mouth). Ask yourself:

  • What are some ways that people use rivers?
  • What can happen to a river when a factory is nearby?
  • What can happen when a town is close to a river?
  • Where along a river would water be clean for swimming or fishing?
  • Could building a dam change a watershed?
  • Does farming affect the water in a river?

Move the puzzle pieces around until you're satisfied, then tape your river to the construction paper.

Make a special river
Be creative! Use puzzle pieces to make a model of a river in your state. Collect pictures from magazines and make your own puzzle pieces.

Geography Action! Rivers 2001! is an educational outreach program of the National Geographic Society in partnership with The Coca-Cola Company and The Conservation Fund. © 2001 National Geographic Society.

Adobe PDF download A river puzzle! (Adobe PDF document)


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Canadian Geographic magazine is an excellent resource for teachers and students. It provides posters in both official languages, such as the St. Lawrence Seaway map, as well as short geography related news items suitable for current events. In addition, the June issue each year is devoted to environmental issues such as wind energy.”

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