Lake Districts

Science and Language Arts Activity

Students research various lakeside environments as a means of comparing such things as land features, plants, animals, climates, and ecosystems.



  1. Divide the class into research teams. Explain to students that each team is going to study a lake and learn about its environment. Create a large chart headed LAKES and having at least six columns. Then ask students to share what they know about lakes, such as how they are formed; how they differ from other bodies of water; what part they play in a region's economy, including leisure activities; and what causes lake pollution. Leaving the first column blank for the names of lakes, help students categorize their ideas into column heads. These might include the following topics:

  2. Have students locate the larger lakes of the United States on the map (for example, the Great Lakes, the Great Salt Lake, and Lake Champlain). Enter the names of those lakes on the chart. Have the teams locate and list other lakes on regional and/or state maps.

  3. When you bring the class together, point out that two conclusions they can draw from their map survey is that lakes come in all sizes and are found all over the country. Tell students they will have to use reference materials to learn more about the different bodies of water. Once they have gathered the information they need, they will then enter it on the chart, because a chart is a good way of comparing environments. Ask students to predict whether their study of several of these lakes is likely to show more similarities than differences.

  4. Assign a lake to each team, making sure to include a variety of regions, such as the Midwest, West, and Northeast. If possible, include a lake in your own state as well as an artificial lake formed when a river was damned. Consider also the availability of age-appropriate research materials.

  5. Have each team read and make notes about the lake it is examining, organize the information under the chart headings, then present it in a report format with appropriate illustrations, diagrams, or other visual material. As a final step, students enter on the chart a summation for each point.

  6. Go over the completed chart with students, encouraging them to find similarities and differences among the various lake ecosystems.


Students should understand that individuals with expertise can also be considered reference sources. Invite as a guest speaker someone very familiar with a lake environment. This might include a local or other government official responsible for natural resources, resident of a lake district, boater, guide, or business person.

Some students might study lakeside industries that have caused pollution and base a report on successful cleanup efforts. Others might delve into the effects of recreational activities on a lake's ecosystem and use what they learn to develop a list of Dos and Don'ts for swimmers and operators of recreational water vehicles.

Writers can use a lake as the setting of a story. To point up the problems of wide use of a lake's resources, they might write side-by-side stories, one set two hundred years ago and one in modern times.

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