Rivers Topic Guide for Teachers
Rivers are a crucial part of the Earth’s water cycle. Starting up in the hills and mountains of the world, rivers carry water into the lakes and seas. Animals (including humans) depend on them as sources of fresh water.

As well as providing habitats for animals and plants, rivers are also used by humans for leisure activities such as boating and fishing. They can even provide us with electricity!

Teach your children about the rivers using our handy topic guide!

Choose a section:
Teaching Ideas | Resources | Facts | Videos | Books | Links

Teaching Ideas



  • The Rivers Pack includes a guide, resources and display materials for teaching this popular topic.

The Rivers Pack

Rivers Knowledge Organiser

Rivers Knowledge Organiser

Members of Teaching Packs can download a comprehensive knowledge organiser to accompany this topic. It includes key information that your children can use for reference and research, along with labelled diagrams and a glossary of useful terms.

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River Facts

  • The world’s longest river is the Nile, which flows through Africa for about 4,132 miles (6.650 km).
  • Rivers always run downhill, from the source (the start of the river) to the mouth, where the river empties into another body of water.
  • The earth to each side of a river is known as the bank.
  • The River Danube flows through four European capital cities; Vienna (Austria), Bratislava (Slovakia), Budapest (Hungary) and Belgrade (Serbia).
  • Valleys and canyons are caused by rivers eroding (gradually moving) soil.


The Water Cycle

This video clearly explains the water cycle.

Running time: 1:36


This BBC Teach video follows the journey of a river from its source to its mouth.

Running time: 2:11

The River Thames

This video is a good introduction to the River Thames for younger children.

Running time: 1:49

Make Your Own Erosion!

Explore how water can change the landscape with this simple experiment.

Running time: 3:49

Watch An Oxbow Lake Form

This short animation is a great example of how rivers change their course over time.

Running time: 1:15


Journey to the River Sea
When Maia is orphaned, she is sent from England to live on the Amazon river.
The Wind in the Willows
The much loved classic story of life on a riverbank.
A River
Follow the river in this beautiful picture book.
Great Rivers of the World
Explore the rivers, their environments and the people that live there in this vibrant book.
Where on Earth: Rivers
This book is packed with facts and information about rivers.
The Water Cycle
Find out how the Earth recycles its water.

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