Teachers & Group Leaders

Rivers And Canals

Key Stage 2


This lesson gives children the opportunity to investigate some of the differences between canals & rivers. They will learn what the words 'natural' and 'man made' mean, how rivers are created as surface water runs to the sea, and why canals were built. They will learn to identify some of the major features of both by name.

National Curriculum


  • 2) (a) In developing geographical skills pupils should be taught to use appropriate geographical vocabulary.
  • 4) (a) Knowledge and understanding of patterns and processes. Pupils should be taught to recognise and explain patterns made by individual physical and human features in the environment.
  • 4) (b) Recognise some physical and human processes and explain how these can cause changes in places and environments.
  • 6) During the key stage, pupils should be taught the knowledge, skills and understanding through three themes:
  • 6) (c) Water and its effects on landscapes and people, including the physical features of rivers….or coasts,… and the processes of erosion and deposition that affect them.

Learning Objectives

  • To understand the meaning of the words river & canal.
  • To understand that rivers have natural origins although they may subsequently be altered by human action.
  • To understand that canals are man-made.
  • To understand some of the main reasons why canals are built.
  • To learn the names of some of the main features of a river & canal.


  • All children will learn that a river is natural and a canal man made.
  • Most children will be able to identify & name the main features of a river & a canal.
  • Some children will understand when and why canals were built.

Additional Resources

File Description Download
Diagram of a river Download KS2riverdiagram
Diagram of a canal Download KS2canaldiagram
Download Lesson Plan