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River Study

Learning Objectives

Most pupils will learn to:

  • Be safe around water
  • Use primary fieldwork techniques
  • Use different sampling techniques to collect minibeasts
  • Use geographical vocabulary
  • Recognise physical river processes

Some pupils will also have the opportunity to:

  • Develop appreciation of the environment and personal responsibility for its conservation
  • Understand how people can improve and damage the environment
  • Use ICT to help in geographical investigations

Key words/phrases

Water cycle, rainfall, source, spring, river, stream, waterfall, valley, channel, lake, mouth, erosion, pollution, tributary, weir, floodplain, meander, gorge, rapids, estuary, delta, weathering, transportation, deposition

National Curriculum links

KS2 Geography: Geographical enquiry skills 1a,b. 2a, b, c, e, f, g
Knowledge understanding of pattern and processes 4 a, b
Knowledge understanding of ESD and Environmental Change: a, b


Centre staff will welcome your group and describe the day’s programme, learning objectives, and the health and safety issues. (10 mins)

½ Day Course Programme

  • Digital slide show showing the different geographical techniques that are going to be used. Flow rate, cross section, identification of species, field sketching (15 mins)
  • Collect equipment and put wellies on (10 mins)
  • Walk to River Meden (10 mins)
  • Pupils divided into 4 groups. Each group to rotate around the different geographical techniques discussed above (5 mins)
  • Demonstration of key points for each activity (5 mins)
  • Groups to rotate around each activity (30 - 45 mins)
  • Tidy up / collect equipment (10 mins)
  • Back to the centre to get changed (10 mins)

Detailed activity sheets can be found in the Pond and River Studies & Humanities curriculum materials. Copies available at the centre.


Back at the Centre the group will reflect on their day and consider how well the learning objectives have been met (5 – 10 mins).

Safety Considerations

Weather Conditions and clothing

Some wellies are available at the Centre but please ensure that children are dressed warmly and have suitable waterproof outerwear. Activities will take place in all but the most severe weather conditions. The centre teacher will contact the group leader if conditions are unsafe for the visit to continue.

Even though the river is shallow the pupils invariably get wet feet, so spare socks and trousers should be brought.

We have a large supply of Wellington boots at the centre, but if pupils bring their own it speeds up the start of the session

Equipment supplied

Nets, trays, ID keys, observation pots, hand lenses, clipboards, recording sheets, first aid kit, flow rate meter, tape measures, stop watches, floats

Equipment needed from school

Sun cream if required, wellies

Other Information

The actual programme may vary depending on the number and needs of pupils, length of visit and weather conditions. This activity lends itself well to the other ½ day session being based around Art in the Environment where the pupils create their own river systems in the woodland and then labelling it with the key words/phrases detailed above.


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