Objective: Students will become familiar with names and stories of rivers in South Dakota.

Materials: 23 River Jugglers River Story Cards (1 per student), State of South Dakota 1:500,000 scale map, small ball such as tennis or ping pong balls (suggestion is to wad up a piece of paper to use as a ball)

Background: South Dakota has a total of 10,298 miles of rivers and major streams. Many of these waterbodies were named by the Native American population that inhabited the state. Some were named by Canadian hunters and trappers. Some were named and then renamed by the residents who lived around them.

Give each student a River Jugglers River Story Card. Note: if your class has more than 23 students, form several small groups of "twins" or "triplets" and give each group one River Jugglers River Story Card.

Laminate the State of South Dakota 1:500,000 scale map.

Give each student an opportunity to find his/her river on the map.

Next, have students read over their story card. Have them find or make some type of identifier that they can use when playing the game. For example, the student with "White River" may want to make a white circle and place it on his/her shirt. The only stipulation to creating/displaying "props" is that the name of the waterbody cannot be written on the identifier.

After students have made their "props", have them sit in a circle on the floor. Students then introduce themselves as "Mike White River", "Katie Big Sioux River", etc. depending on the name of their story card river. With twins and triplets, they can introduce themselves as "Mike and Katie - we're the Elm River twins" or "Sam, Don and Bill Redwater River - we're triplet's". Make sure that twins and triplets use the same props to identify themselves.

Begin the game by saying the person's name and waterbody as you toss him/her the ball. That player tosses the ball to another player, calling out his/her name and waterbody.

Continue until everyone has had the ball at least once.

Now speed up. When this gets easy, add one or two more balls.

Have students carefully examine the map. Assign each student a county and have them make a list of all the waterbodies in their county. Next have each student write and illustrate a historical story about one of the waterbodies in their county. Encourage them to be very creative. Share all the stories with the class and then with their parents at a parent-teacher conference.
Grade Level:

Subject Areas:
Reading, Social Studies

SD Standards for 4th grade:
4.R.1.1; 4.R.1.2; 4.R.2.1

Social Studies


Observing, Memorizing, Applying, Presenting

Prior Preparation: Read to the class "A River Ran Wild" by Lynne Cherry or "The River" by David Bellamy or another book about rivers and their historical significance. Explain to the students that all rivers have a history and they will be learning about the rivers in South Dakota and their history.

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