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Rivers: Where Civilizations Start


Today's Snack: Since we're studying rivers and their impact on history, it makes sense to have a LIQUID snack. How about heating up some individually-packaged soup, such as chicken noodle or Ramen noodle? Eat with crackers and drink a river of milk!





World map, either photocopied from a reference book

or printed out from online

Colored pencils if you're using paper

Chalk if you're using a blackboard or parking lot



Did you know that most ancient civilizations sprang up around rivers? History shows us that the first cities were always on big rivers, and there are many reasons why:


         People need water, and freshwater rivers are fantastic water supplies.


         The soil near rivers is more fertile than anywhere else because of spring runoff; land near rivers is the best place to farm and grow food.


         You can travel up and down rivers more easily than over land, so it is easier to transport goods and people in and out of an area by water, making it easier to trade and prosper.



There are several very important ancient civilizations that all centered around rivers. A great start at learning ancient history is learning about these rivers and the people who lived around them.


Find these rivers on a world map - use an index if needed. You can use colored pencils on a printout of a world map, or if you are in a group, you can use chalk on the blackboard.


If there is a big enough space in a parking lot that is safe, you can expand the scope of your map and draw the "world" and the rivers on a larger scale outside.


Draw or label the land masses that the rivers flow through (the shapes of the continents or countries). Draw the rivers and title them. Show what oceans or seas the rivers emptied into.


Then color in areas that showed where the people groups lived for each of these rivers. Take a look at how those people had access to other civilizations thanks to "their" rivers emptying into oceans, making travel to faraway places more feasible.


Finally, look up in a reference book about the dates that these river civilizations existed, with a few facts about what their main products were, or who their most famous leaders were.


Here are the rivers for your study:




Tigris River (TIE-griss)

Euphrates River (you-FRATE-eez)


-- These two rivers were important in Mesopotamia (Iraq)



Nile River (n-eye-l)


-- Egypt



Indus River (IND-uss)


-- India


Hwang Ho or Yellow River


-- China



Extra credit: the Mississippi River and the Missouri River are two of the most important rivers in American history. Read up a little about these rivers. Draw them on a U.S map. Write a paragraph about each of them and how they contributed to the development of the United States.




By Susan Darst Williams www.AfterSchoolTreats.com History 03 2010




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