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Wetland Lesson for Kids: Facts & Ecosystem

Instructor: Debra Patuto

Debra has taught at elementary levels and has an M.ed with certification in elementary education and special education

In this lesson, we will explore the wetlands. We'll not only learn what a wetland is and where you can find one, but we will also take a look at plants and animals that live in wetlands and how they are important to our world.

World Wetlands Day

What are you doing on February 2nd? Waiting to see if the groundhog sees his shadow? Well, once you find out, it's then time to celebrate World Wetlands Day! For over 40 years, the United States has been celebrating and spreading the word on the importance of the world's wetlands on this day.

What are Wetlands?

Wetlands are places where there's shallow water or soaking wet soil at least part of the year. You will know when you are close to wetland areas when you walk towards a water-filled area and your feet start to sink into the ground below.

Wetlands can range in size from small, like a swamp, to very large, like the the Florida Everglades, which cover two million acres! Wetlands provide great homes for many different kinds of animals and plants. There are different kinds of wetlands. Some are wet with salt water and some are wet with fresh water.

This photo shows a small section of the Florida Everglades.
everglades

Salt Water Wetlands

Have you ever been to the beach during low tide? Beaches (not oceans) are one kind of salt water wetland. Where the water is shallow, you can find pools of water full of fish, worms, and hermit crabs. As the tide rolls in and the water rises, most of the salt water wetlands get covered by ocean water.

Some plants and animals are not affected by the tides because they're closer to the mainland. Seagrass loves to grow in these higher areas. Reptiles like to lay their eggs inside the seagrass because they're hidden from larger animals. Mosquitoes are also very common in this area once the sun goes down, so bring your bug spray!

Estuaries (or salt marshes) are another type of wetland where fresh water meets salt water, like when a river ends at an ocean.

This is an estuary at low tide.
estuary

Fresh Water Wetlands

Fresh water wetlands are shallow waters along the edges of rivers and streams as well as poorly-drained areas that collect water, like swamps. Water levels can vary during different seasons of the year. They can be dry, frozen, or even flooded by heavy rains.

There are more varieties of plants in fresh water wetlands. Swamps have many different trees and shrubs that grow right up through the water like the bald cypress tree.

This swampy area shows the bald cypress trees growing out of the water.
bald cypress swamp

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