The Colorado River

A reading comprehension lesson on the mighty Colorado River, the lifeline of the southwest. Includes printable teaching lesson worksheet.



• Students will be able to explain why the Colorado River is known as the lifeline of the southwest.

• Students will be able to describe geographical characteristics of the Colorado River and the regions that surround it.

• Students will be able to describe the significance of John Wesley Powells exploration of the Colorado River.

• Students will understand what reservoirs are and how they improve the quality of life for the communities that build them.


Suggested Grades:

4th Grade - 5th Grade - 6th Grade

Lesson Procedure:

Print the reading comprehension passage and questions (see below).

Students should read the passage silently, then answer the questions. Teachers may also use the text as part of a classroom lesson plan.


Lesson Excerpt:

The Colorado River is the lifeline of the southwestern United States. The states of Arizona, Nevada and Colorado are very dry with little rain fall. Still, cities like Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vega, Nevada thrive in this part of the country. There are even farms in the southwest where crops like corn and lettuce are grown and sheep, cows and other animals are raised. The reason this area is able to thrive is because the Colorado River runs through it.

The river runs southwest from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, through Utah and Arizona and into Mexico. It creates a border between Arizona and southeastern Nevada near Las Vegas. It also creates a border between Arizona and the southeastern part of California. The river empties into the Gulf of California, which is located in northwest Mexico. Smaller rivers and streams, which are known as tributaries, flow into the Colorado River and add to its power.



Lesson Printables:

Print this printable worksheet for this lesson:

The Colorado River







More Social Studies Lesson Plans, Lessons, and Worksheets