We are currently studying bodies of water in our nature study. To begin the study, I asked my children the question, “Where do creeks, rivers, lakes, and ponds come from?” Bella had a decent grasp of this idea, as we have been camping in the mountains many times and have shown her how those small rivulets turn into creeks. However, seeing this in person does not help a child to picture the entire system, so we put together an easily understood hands-on demonstration of a watershed. I called this a “water tree,” as we saw the tree shape of the water system at the end!
- Cookie sheet or cake pan
- Newspaper sheets
- Printer paper
- Spray bottle filled with water
- Blue food coloring, preferable gel
- Packing tape
- Old towel
- Crayons, optional
You will be forming a valley with mountains on three sides of your baking pan. Figure out how many sheets of paper you need to cover your pan; one of these will be your valley, the others will be your mountains. We colored our mountain sheets brown and our valley green to make it easier to see the topography.
Crumple ALL of your papers, then tape the back sides of your colored papers together. Crumple the newspapers and place them in a U shape around your pan; put your colored papers on top of this form. Tape the sides of the paper down to your pan.
Optional: Have your child use a blue crayon or marker to show where they think the water will travel down the mountain.
Spread a towel on your table under your pan. For this demonstration, it only rains on the mountains. Dot your blue food coloring on the very tips of your mountains in your mountain range.
Spray the water on the tops of your mountains until the water is running down into your valley.
- Have your child sketch the water shed that you made.
- Find topographical maps of your state and divide it into watersheds.
- Find small-scale water sheds on your property, in your neighborhood, or at a local park.
- Discuss how pollution at one part of your watershed affects the whole system.
Have you studied watersheds? Did you have a fun activity that you’d like to share? Comment and let me know!