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A collection of Geography activities for learning about the Mississippi River


Social Studies  


2, 3, 4  

Kyle Yamnitz

The Mississippi River

Grade Level : 2-4

Length : Several Class Periods

Materials :

Globe, US Map, compasses, blank US map, regular and online encyclopedias, and any maps that focus on the Mississippi River.

Performance Expectation :

Students will be able to demonstrate the importance of the Mississippi river and all its uses such as transportation, food, commercial purposes, and drinking water. They will also be able to provide information about other rivers and their importance.

Directions :

The following is a simple list of activities to learn about the Mississippi River.

  • On a map, have students label the Mississippi River and the surrounding states. Also have them locate the river on a globe to familiarize them with the river’s greater association with the world.
  • Students could write letters to the states that border the river requesting information.
  • Using a compass, have students locate the general direction to the river from the classroom, and ask them to describe what direction the river flows.
  • Ask students to sketch a map of the United States and its major water bodies. Or have them add the major water bodies to a blank map of the United States.
  • Have students research Hernando De Soto to find that he was responsible for the discovery of the Mississippi River.
  • Study the Louisiana Purchase and what the United States acquired through it.
  • Using encyclopedias or some other source have students research the difference between a nautical mile and a land mile. Ask them to try to find the length of the Mississippi River in nautical miles.
  • Study the differences between the following ships that may navigate the Mississippi River: steamboat, tugboat, tanker, barge, freighter, and paddlewheel.
  • On a United States map, request that students label the Mississippi River’s floodplain, spillways, locks, ports, levees, and the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Compare the Mississippi with other rivers of the world on size, load, and uses.
  • Write a short essay on what life would be like without this important river.

Adaptation :

For upper and lower grades, remove activities as necessary to suit the grade level. Include the study of other rivers around the world and their uses for multiculturalism.

Assessment :

Ask students to write a self-evaluation on what they learned through the activities they worked on. Have them describe what they learned and why the river is important.

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