Unit 2 – Water Basics

Lesson 3 – Water Body Formations

Hiya, I’m glad you’re taking the time to learn science with Evergreen Elementary Environmental Education. I hope you enjoyed Lessons 1 and 2. Today we are completing our last lesson before the big WATER POLLUTION lesson. It is important to learn how water gets into the ocean to understand why our water pollution in the sea is out of control.

Let’s go over some of the real basics. Start by review the definitions of stream, river, ocean, and lake (you can find the definitions on the Unit 2 Vocabulary Page). Lakes, rivers, and streams are usually freshwater, while oceans are always saltwater. Water cannot float upstream, so a river can never run up a mountain. All lakes must hold water. All water eventually leads to the ocean, and the ocean in the lowest place water can flow.


Build a diagram with modeling clay or playdough!


  1. Pourable water (like a water bottle or pitcher)
  2. Modeling clay, play dough, or similar substance
  3. Long (at least one foot) flat waterproof box (Large Tupperware container)
  4. Paint (optional)
  5. Styrofoam cut out (optional)
  6. Salt (optional)


    See if students can create a lake, river, and ocean (For more advanced students: have them make the ocean saltwater and the rest of the water freshwater). Below is my example, you can see I have the water flowing from the top of the mountain (where my lake is) to the bottom of the mountain (where the ocean is). The water is using a river to flow down from the lake into the ocean. If you choose to paint your diagram, you might have to let the paint dry overnight before pouring water on it. In a few units, we will need these models again, so if you store it in a safe place for a few weeks, that would be amazing.

    These are the steps I used to create my diagram:

    1. Cut a circle Styrofoam ball into a quarter and set it on the side of my Tupperware (Note, I did not glue the Styrofoam in because I wish to use this Tupperware again one day)
    2. Lay flattened modeling clay on top of the Styrofoam (This will hold the Tupperware in place). I chose none hardening modeling clay because I wish to use my Tupperware again one day).
    3. Shape a lake at the top of the mountain. From the lake, create rivers and streams that run into the ocean. If you are planning on painting over the diagram, test-run the system to make sure the lake will actually hold water, and the river does run into the ocean. Make any corrections.
    4. Paint and let dry.
    5. Put salt at the bottom to complete the ocean.
    6. Pour water and let the experiment run its course!
    7. Please post your pictures to my Facebook Page captioned #LakesRiversandOceansOhmy
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