Water Erosion Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Sarah Meers

Sarah has taught elementary education for 10 years and has a master's degree in Education Leadership.

In this lesson, you will learn how Mother Nature uses 4 types of water erosion to move soil and particles from one area to another. You will also find out how humans cause water erosion and the effect it has on Earth.

What is Water Erosion?

Earth is always changing. The land we walked across today will not be the same in 5 years, 5 months, or even 5 days. One natural process that changes our surroundings is water erosion. Water erosion is when water moves soil and other natural materials from one spot to another.

4 Types of Water Erosion

There are 4 main types of water erosion: inter-rill erosion, rill erosion, gully erosion, and streambank erosion. Let's learn about them now.

Have you ever watched a raindrop splash down in the dirt and make a little circle? This is inter-rill erosion. When the water splashes down, the soil or natural particles move to the outside of the area, creating a small crater in the soil.

Inter-Rill Erosion
interrill erosion

If enough of these small raindrops join together to create a small stream of water, you will see an example of rill erosion. This happens when the stream cuts through the soil and creates a small channel.

Sometimes the raindrops that create those small craters and channels are part of a heavy rainstorm. The erosion that is caused by the water runoff from these heavy rainstorms or melting snow is called gully erosion. This type of water erosion creates large cuts in the land that are usually more than 1 foot deep.

Gully Erosion
gill erosion

The final type of water erosion is called streambank erosion. It is caused by large flowing bodies of water, such as rivers and large streams. These rivers and streams cut into the banks of the land, moving the soil and particles and changing the size and shape of the river or stream.

The Colorado River cutting through the Grand Canyon is an example of streambank erosion. Over the course of millions of years, the water erosion has created a natural wonder that thousands of tourists visit every year.

Streambank Erosion
streambank erosion

Humans and Water Erosion

Unfortunately, humans also do things that can lead to negative effects of water erosion. When we cut down too many plants and trees, the soil is more easily moved by water. When this happens, the topsoil is often removed. This topsoil has the most nutrients for plants, which means this is not very healthy for them.

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