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❶Rivers carry rainwater from hills downhill to other rivers, lakes or the ocean. Many rivers and streams will join together before they reach the mouth of the river.

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What is a river?

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What is a river? A river is freshwater flowing across the surface of the land, usually to the sea. The River Channel Rivers flow in channels.

Find out more about the different sources of rivers. How are rivers formed? How do rivers grow? A river grows larger as it collects water from more tributaries along its course. Where do rivers end? What do rivers provide? Erosion on the bends of the meanders means that they are slowly changing shape and that path the river takes will gradually change. Sometimes the erosion will cut a straight path for the river to take and leave what used to be a bend isolated from the river.

Sometimes to make it easier to for boats to travel up and down rivers, people change the way that the river flows. Sometimes they make the river wider or make it deeper so that bigger boats can travel on it. When the river is too steep and flows to fast, they might put in locks to make it safer for the boats to travel.

Rivers have also been used for a long time to help people work equipment. People would build mills to grind corn and grain near to rivers so that they could use a water wheel to work the mill.

The bottom of the wheel would be put into the water, and when the water turned the wheel, the wheel would make the equipment in the mill turn and grind up the grain. Today, instead of using a wheel to operate equipment, we build big dams across the rivers and use the force of the water to turn turbines and generate electricity to power our machines. We call this hydro-electricity because it is generated from water. Bank — The riverbank is the land at the side of the river.

Basin — Rainwater that falls on hills flows down the side of the hills into rivers. A river basin the group of hills, valleys and lakes that water flows into the river from. Bed — The bed is the bottom of a river. A riverbed can be made of sand, rocks or mud depending on the river. Canal — A man-made waterway that is used so that boats can transport goods across bits of the country where there are no rivers they can use. Current — The strength and speed of the river.

Water always flows downhill; the steeper the ground is, the stronger the current will be. Delta — A wide muddy or sandy area where some rivers meet the sea. The river slows down and drops all the sediments it was carrying. Downstream — The direction that the water flows, downhill towards the sea Fresh water — Rainwater that falls from the sky has no salt in it. We call this fresh water. Erosion — When a river flows fast it damages the riverbanks and washes bits of them downstream.

This makes the river wider. Estuary — Where a river reaches the ocean and the river and ocean mix. Estuaries are normally wide and flat.

Floodplain — The flat area around a river that often gets flooded when the level of water in the river is high. Mouth — The end of a river where it flows into the sea, another river or a lake. Silt — Small bits of dirt or sand that are carried along by a river.

Source — The start of a river is its source. This could be a spring on a hillside, a lake, or a bog or marsh. A river may have more than one source. Stream — A small river Tidal river — At the end of a river, near the ocean, water from the sea flows up the river when the tide comes in. Tributary — A smaller river or stream that joins a big river is called a tributary.

Upstream — The opposite direction to the way the water in a river flows Watershed — Water flows down the side of hills into rivers. But, water that lands on opposite sides of the same hill might flow into different rivers. The watershed is the boundary between two river basins. Access thousands of brilliant resources to help your child be the best they can be.

What is a river? Rivers carry rainwater from hills downhill to other rivers, lakes or the ocean. The start of a river is called the source and the end is called the mouth. Many rivers and streams will join together before they reach the mouth of the river.

The smaller rivers and streams are called tributaries. A fast flowing river will carry soil and dirt from its banks and bed downstream and drop them when it gets wider and slows down. When there is too much water in a river it floods and covers the area around it water.

Sometimes this water is a deep as person or a house is tall. Floods cause a lot of damage but they also deposit nutrients from the water on the flooded land. This makes land that floods good for farming on. Rivers can be difficult and dangerous to cross. Towns often grow up where there are bridges or safe places to walk across.

The longest river in the world is the Nile in Africa. It is 4, miles long. The longest rivers in Britain are the Severn miles long and the Thames miles long. The river that carries the most water in the world is the Amazon in South America.


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As the river flows downstream, it gains more water from other streams, rivers, springs, added rainfall, and other water sources. What is a river? A river is freshwater flowing across the surface of the land, usually to the sea.

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