What is a Watershed? Activity

Have you heard the word “Watershed” before, and didn’t know what that meant? If that sounds like you, I’m here to help! With this super fun activity, you get a hands-on approach to learning about the world we live in!


  • Tray (something flat to hold materials and catch water)
  • Trash or Recyclables (to construct landscape)
  • Tape (may not be necessary)
  • Cling Wrap
  • Spray Bottle or Watering can (to simulate rain)
  • Your mouth, a fan, or a hair dryer (to simulate wind)
  • Sprinkles
  • Food Coloring Droppers
  • Paper towels (for the mess)
  • Workspace: Cardboard, table cloth, plastic sheet, paper bag, towel (to do project on top of in case of mess or dripping outside of the pan)


1. Gather all supplies!

2. Set tray on top of workspace

3. Construct a landscape of mountains and valleys on top of the tray

4. Tape down any loose pieces

5. Tightly wrap cling wrap over the landscape and secure it

6. Drop sprinkles and food coloring all over the landscape to symbolize pollutants.

7. Use the spray bottle or watering can to simulate rain. Watch how the pollutants move down the mountains and gather in the valleys

8. Use your wind simulator to blow the pollutants around, and see how wind can also affect the movement of particles

9. After the storm has passed, take note of where the pollutants ended up: find the drainage basin(s) where the water flowed to. This will show you how a watershed works! Take note of the pollutants that started on a mountain high above and far away, and ended up in the basin(s). By tracking which pollutants ended up in each basin, you can start to see where each watershed is. A watershed is defined by the area of land that drains towards the same basin. See if you can outline yours!

10. Carefully Clean Up!