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What is a Watershed? (Introduction)

SUBJECTS Language Arts, Science, Social Studies
GRADE LEVEL Primary (K-3) / Junior (4-6) / Intermediate (7-8)
PLEDGE 1 - Protection of Water

Resources Needed:

1. Video link to: Protect our watershed for its source, of course! by Ottawa Riverkeeper

2. Background information –  Watershed Definition


1. Have students discuss/brainstorm the following questions (partner, small group or whole class):

a) What happens to all of the rain water when it rains? Where do you think it goes?

b) Have you heard the term, watershed? What do you think it means? 

If students already know about watersheds, ask them to give a definition, if it’s a new term, have them brainstorm ideas.


1. Show the video, Protect our watershed for its source, of course!

2. After watching the video, revisit the question, What is a watershed? and have students work with a partner to describe what a watershed is.

3. Create a definition of a watershed as a class.

4. Ask students some of the following questions, based on the video, to help solidify the concept of a watershed:

  • What makes up a watershed?
  • When does water flow through a watershed?
  • What kinds of things flow into a river when it rains?
  • How do you think cutting down a tree, forest, or clearing a field affects a watershed?
  • What are some things we might be able to do to protect our watershed?

5. Have groups share their ideas with the class.

Follow Up Activities:

1. Have students research about their own local watershed and where their drinking water comes from.

2. If in the Ottawa area, contact the  Ottawa Riverkeeper to borrow the Stormwater model (featured in the video) from their Learning Library for your class.