River Features For KS2 Made Fun!

Durham Prebends with bridge and trees along the river bed

So many resources are available for KS2 Geography content on the internet, it can be difficult to know where to start.

We have gathered and summarised the key pieces of information needed to teach the KS2 curriculum content to children. Teaching at home can be a challenge so we have designed these resources to make the process as easy as possible.

To talk about features of a river, children first need to understand what a river is and some examples. Read on for our top suggestions to make lessons fun at home!

What Is A River?

Children playing with stones in a river
Image © GoodFreePhotos

A river is a body of water that flows from a high area to a lower area. Gravity allows the river to flow downhill. The amount of water that flows through the river increases and decreases based on rainfall and snow. During droughts, a river can get very low or dry up completely.

What Are The Features Of Rivers?

River features can be divided into upper course, middle course and lower course features. The lower course is the furthest from the source.  The source of a river is in the mountains or tops of hills, when rain and or snow collects in valleys and flows down the sides of the 'v' shaped hills.

A lush green waterfall
Image © Sean MacEntee

Upper Course Features: Deep 'v' shaped valleys, waterfalls, interlocking spurs. The upper course of a river has a faster current that causes erosion.

Middle Course Features: This is where the river meanders.

Lower Course Features: Floodplains and deltas.

How Are Rivers Taught To KS2 Children?

Key Stage 1: Children will be introduced to the features of a river such as the source, the meander and the mouth. They may be shown some different river features and videos about a famous river to look at.

Key Stage Two:

Year 3: Children will build on their KS1 knowledge and learn some more detailed features. They may make a poster from their lessons.

Year 4: Teachers may introduce more sophisticated language and complicated features. A more detailed understanding of how communities form next to a river.

Year 5: Students will be taught about the different stages of a river and be able to explain these clearly. This includes oxbow lakes, a flood plain, the river mouth and erosion.

Year 6: Students will be able to confidently talk about the different stages of a river with technical vocabulary.

View from the summit of a snowy mountain range
Image © barnyz

At-Home Teaching Activities

Teaching Geography at home can be a great opportunity to bond with your children. This subject is great to teach young children about different places and cultures so case studies and examples can be great to make studying a river more exciting.

Meandering Moves: Creating a dance to represent the different features of a river can he a hilarious way to get active together.

See The River, Hear The River, Speak The River: A great activity for creative kids, they can think about what sounds and sights are present at the different stages of the river and try to describe or represent them. For example, to represent the water whooshing through a 'v' shaped valley, they could make the noise and describe the valley.

Case Study: Teaching your child about river features through a case study of a river, for example The Nile. It can be great to explore the culture and environment of Egypt as the Nile meanders past people, buildings and cities.

Fun Fact Quiz: Check out our fun facts below and quiz your child on river features!

10 Fun Facts About Rivers

1. The deepest river is thought to be The Congo River in central Africa. Scientists believe it is at least 230m deep!

2. Caño Cristales is known as the river of five colours because in different places is flows black, yellow, blue, red and green.

3. Rivers below the surface of the ground are called subterranean rivers.

4. Only 1% of the world's water is in freshwater rivers. 99% is in the oceans or frozen in the north and south poles.

5. The longest river in the world is The Nile River, at a whopping 6,654km long.

6. The Amazon River contains the most water. It is bigger than the next five largest rivers combined!

7. You can actually make electricity from the flow of a river, which is known as hydroelectricity.

8. Some rivers only flow at certain times during the year. These are called intermittent rivers.

9. Floods can be useful to deposit nutrients in land which is then later used for farming.

10. There is a river on every continent in the entire world.

View from the side of a tropical river with jungle along it.
Image © Dennis Jarvis


Test the kids with these simple glossary terms.

Course: The path that the river follows.

Current: The flow of the water is known as the current, and it is usually the strongest at the upper course.

Delta: These form where the sea cannot take up the minerals from the river as quickly as the river deposits it.

Discharge: The amount of water flowing as part of the river.

Floodplain: Wherever a river floods, it deposits nutrients and forms a flood plain which can be very useful for farming. This is part of the lower course.

Interlocking Spurs: The portion of the river just after the source, where the river runs quickly between steep valleys. The zig zag is formed when the water struggles to erode hard rock.

Meander: Where the sides of the river have eroded to make the river wider, then form horseshoe shaped bends. This is the main feature of the middle course.

Mouth: Where the river meets the sea.

Oxbow Lake: After a lot of erosion, a section of the meander becomes separated from the river to form a curved lake. Oxbow lakes are usually close to the river they formed from.

River Bank: The earth on either side of the river.

River Bed: The area of ground that the river flows over.

Source:  The source of the river is where the river begins, at the top of a mountain or hill after rain or snow collects.

Tributary: A small stream.

Valley: A valley is where two mountains meet at the bottom, where a river can run through.



At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.

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Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

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