Keywords: ecosystem, watershed, basin, headwaters, source, tributary, mouth; Lesson Plan Grade Level: Grade 4; Total Time Required: Two classes of at least 40 minutes each; Setting: Indoor classroom

    Goals for the lesson

    • Students will be able to describe what a watershed is and how many there are in Pennsylvania.
    • Students will be able to identify and locate the watershed they live in on a map of Pennsylvania.
    • Students will be able to label the 6 Pennsylvania Watersheds on a map of Pennsylvania.
    • Students will be able to label and explain the parts of a watershed.

    Materials needed

    (Note- all handouts/sheets are at the end of the lesson procedure)

    State Standards Addressed: 3.1.4.A Know that natural and human-made objects are made up of parts - Identify and describe what parts make up a system; 3.5.4.A Know basic landforms and earth history - Identify various earth structures (eg. mountains, faults, drainage basins) through the use of models; 4.1.4.E Recognize the impact of watersheds and wetlands on animals and plants - Explain the role of watersheds in everyday life and identify the role of watersheds and wetlands for plants and animals.

    Subjects covered:

    • what a watershed is
    • parts of a watershed
    • Pennsylvania's six watersheds
    • watershed they live in

    Topic covered: Pennsylvania's watersheds

    Teaching Models/Methods

    Verbal and visual to include lecture, demonstration with illustration, group discussion, map skills, and identification/labeling.


    1. Write the word "Watershed" on the board.

    • ask students what they think this is/means and discuss
    • write out definition of a watershed and have students copy it in their notebooks
    • write out definition of a basin and have students copy it in their notebooks
    • discuss how a watershed is only one type of a water environment and review some of the other water environments found on earth

    2. Review what is meant by the term ecosystem.

    • discuss how a watershed is an ecosystem
    • list other systems a watershed is connected to or affects
    • list resources available from a watershed

    3. List the parts of a watershed on the board: source, headwaters, tributary, mouth.

    • using transparency of handout "The Watershed," go over the four parts
    • write out definitions for each term and discuss
    • have students copy definitions in their notebooks

    4. Pass out handout "The Watershed."

    • look over handout and parts that are to be labeled by students
    • have students label parts
    • go over handout with students reviewing each part and its definition

    5. Assessment Vocabulary multiple choice and/or labeling parts of a watershed.

    *** Some of the following steps may vary or need to be adapted to your location.*** ( Steps are set to be used with the Delaware Basin. )

    6. On overhead, show map of Pennsylvania Watersheds and point out the Delaware Basin as the watershed we live in.

    7. Discuss rivers near us that are part of the watershed we live in.

    8. Discuss the course of our watershed to where it empties. (eg. Lehigh River - Delaware River - Atlantic Ocean )

    9. Point out and discuss other watersheds of Pennsylvania including the major river systems that are a part of them and where they empty.

    10. Give students "Pennsylvania's Watersheds" handout and have them label our state's six watersheds. Also have students outline the watershed we live in.


    "Pennsylvania's Watersheds" handout can also be used as a quiz, etc.


    • Pennsylvania's six watersheds identified and labeled correctly on map.
    • Identify the watershed they live in.
    • Label the main parts of a watershed system.
    • Vocabulary quiz: matching (on parts of a watershed )

    Literature/Source cited

    "The Watershed Tour" (LaMotte/STROUD Water Resource Center)

    Websites that can be used with this lesson:

    Video-stream that can be used with this lesson: Natural Focus with Laurie Sunders, A: What is a Watershed?


    Cecilia Ann Enama, Panther Valley School District, Grade 4