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Freshwater Habitats: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lauren Scott

Lauren has a Master's degree in special education and has taught for more than 10 years.

This lesson introduces you to freshwater habitats. You will learn all sorts of facts about different bodies of freshwater, including how they form and why they are important.

What is Freshwater?

Aaaaah, another relaxing day of fishing! You bob along in your rowboat, barely disturbing the surface of the lake. You look around and start to wonder what's beneath the surface, aside from that same fish you caught and threw back three times already. You start to wonder about the river nearby. Would it look just like the lake under the surface? How did these fishing spots get here, anyway? If you do a little research, you will learn that lakes and rivers are two kinds of freshwater habitats, meaning that the water contains little or no salt. They form in different ways, but they all buzz with life and activity!

Lake Habitats

Lakes are enclosed by land on all sides.
lake

Lakes are bodies of water that are surrounded by land. Some lakes, like our fishing lake, are small, flat, and calm. Others, like the Great Lakes that sit between the northern United States and Canada, are enormous! They can have huge waves, just like the ocean. Many lakes formed when huge mountains of ice, called glaciers, moved over the land, carving holes into the landscape. Lakes also form when rivers are cut off by rocks or landslides. They stay filled, in part, due to underground streams that flow into them. Most lakes only contain freshwater, but some lakes contain a lot of salt.

Freshwater lakes host many different animals and plants. Aquatic plants may be rooted into the sand or soil at the bottom, or may float at the surface. Lake habitats are home to fish, frogs, and turtles, and provide swimming and hunting grounds for birds and land animals.

River Habitats

Rivers contain freshwater, but unlike lakes, they are not completely closed in. Rivers are always on the move, flowing at different speeds. They form when moving water carves valleys into rocks and soil. The water often comes from melting mountain snow, or from underground streams. Rivers provide homes for many fish, insects, and shellfish.

Water moves more in rivers than it does in lakes.
river

Rivers flow into other bodies of water like lakes, bays and oceans. They also flow into other rivers.

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