The Topic:
Mississippi River

Easier - The Mississippi River is the second longest river system in the United States. Only the Missouri River is longer. The Mississippi flows 2,340 miles (3,766 kilometers) from its source in northwestern Minnesota to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico.
Harder - The word, Mississippi probably comes from a combination of Chippewa words (mici and zibi) meaning "great river" or "great water." It was first written as "Michi Sepe" by Lieutenant Henri de Tonti traveling with the explorer La Salle.
The Mississippi and its tributaries drain almost all the plains between the Appalachian Mountains and the Rocky Mountains. Its drainage basin is the third largest in the world, exceeded in size only by the watersheds of the Amazon and Congo Rivers. The drainage basin covers 1,247,300 square miles (3,230,490 square kilometers) in 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces. This area encompasses the nation's most productive agricultural and industrial regions. The Mississippi is the nation's chief navigable water route. Barges and towboats on the Mississippi River System carry sixty percent of the agricultural goods, industrial products, and raw materials transported on inland waterways.
The Mississippi River and its valley also support many kinds of animals and plants including freshwater fishes, birds, deer, raccoons, otters, mink, and a variety of forest trees. But pollution from agriculture and industry seriously threaten the life of the Mississippi.
Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
This website is sponsored by the National Park Service and focuses on the Mississippi River in the Minneapolis area.
Other National Park Mississippi River Links:
2) Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (Arch)
3) Nile of the New World
Other Tourism and Information Sites:
2) Big River
3) Old Man River
4) Mississippi River Home Page
Rivers of Life
The comprehensive project explores the history, culture and inspiration of the river. It focuses on the environment and our relationship to the river. The project contains information, activities, and examples of student work.
Other Conservation and Environmental Efforts Websites:
2) Friends of the Mississippi River
3) Issues and Challenges from Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee
4) Mississippi River and the Environment from Green Nature
5) Mississippi River Basin Alliance
Mississippi River from U.S. Geological Survey
At this site, you can take an in-depth look at the Mississippi and the creatures that live in and near its waters.
Other Websites About the Science of the Mississippi:
3) About the Upper Mississippi River System from U.S. Geological Survey
4) Great Mississippi River
5) Mighty Mississippi
6) Mississippi River Basin from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Pulse of America from Time
Nice overview of the life along the Mississippi River.
Other Basic Information Pages:
2) Great River Road . . . Scenic Byway of the Mississippi River
3) River Roads
4) Mississippi Timeline
5) Mississipi River
6) Mississippi River Links
7) Rivers and Geography
After visiting several of the websites on the Mississippi River, complete one or more of the following activities.
Learn About the Mississippi River Online. You can discover the basics about rivers and the Mississippi in particular at Mississippi & Missouri Rivers from Our Land Publications. Visit all four parts of the lesson.
Build a Photo Gallery. Explore online photo galleries related to the Mississippi River including Historic Photos, and Mississippi River Gallery. Then create your own.
Join Mississippi Mussel Mania. Most people are unaware of Mississippi Mussels but they play an important role in the river. Learn about the Mississippi Mussels. You've been hired by a public relations company to promote these little critters. Develop a marketing plan!
Explore the Big River Journey. Check out the Big River Journey Gallery. Create your own art.
Try a Quiz. Explore the Enchanted Learning Mississippi River page. Color the states and try the quiz.
Explore Primary Documents. There are many important historical documents and articles that have had an impact on the River and its people. Explore Primary Documents and OldenTimes News. Select a document and write about it's impact.
Interview and Expert. After exploring all the materials online, brainstorm questions you still have about the Mississippi River. Email a Mississippi River expert.
Create a River Award. Explore the people who have been entered into the Mississippi Hall of Fame. Select one and learn more about this person. Why do you think this person deserves to be the winner of the millennium?
Trace The History of the Mississippi River. Create a mural timeline that conveys the history of transportation on the Mississippi River. Check out the Mississippi River Timeline and Mississippi River Commission page for ideas. This could be a longer term individual project or a collaborative group endeavor. Display the finished artwork project.
Create a Journal. Create your own story about an experience canoeing on the river.
Complete A Mississippi River WebQuest. Follow or adapt the procedures found at one of the following webQuest sites:
1) Exploring the Mississippi River (Grade 4)$FILE/Mississippi+River.html
2) Cruisin' Down the Mississippi River (Grades 4-6)
3) A Journey Down the Missippi: Circa 1885 (Grade 10)
4) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Grade 8)
5) The Muddy Dilemma
6) More Mississippi Mud? (Grades 5-12)
7) Mississippi River Travel Brochure (Grade 8)
8) Atchafalaya Basin: A Master Plan (Grades 7-12)
Read A Mississippi River Tall Tale. You can get started by reading Gabby Hayes's story at Mississippi River from Lesson Tutor. After that, you identify the States the river borders and runs through. Can you name all 10 States?
Try Games, Puzzles, and Quizzes. Check out other Mississippi River games and puzzles. Take the Mississippi River Map Quiz.
Create A Virtual Trip On The Mississippi River. Create a PowerPoint presentation that's a virtual field trip down the river.
Websites By Kids For Kids
Jacques Marquette (1637-1675) and Louis Jolliet (1645-1700) from Explorers of the Millennium (1998 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
Here you can read brief biographies of Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette, the two men who searched for and found the waters of the Mississippi River.
Mississippi River (Grade 7) from Bodies of Water Project
This student report site provides introductory information on the Mississippi River.
River of Life
This project includes lots of different types of student examples.
More Websites for the Mississippi River
Ancient Architects of the Mississippi from National Park Service
Eight hundred years ago, the lower Mississippi Delta was home to some of the most highly organized civilizations in the world.
Captain Jimmy's Mississippi River System
This website provides information and links on towboats and locks and dams on the Mississippi River.
Related Websites:
2) Life on the River
3) Towboat Joe's
Carp - Queen of Rivers or Pig With Fins? by P. Eyden from Big River Reader
Some people call them “rough fish,” and leave them to rot on the river bank. Is this any way to treat a fish that British and Russian anglers prize, a fish that is popular in European, Asian and southern U.S. cuisines? Carp is the most widely eaten fish in the world.
Related Websites:
2) Alligator gar: Help For a Long-lived Leviathan from ESPN Outdoors
Fatal Flood from PBS American Experience
Learn about the the flood that hit the Mississippi River in 1927 from Illinois to New Orleans.
Other Mississippi Flood Sites:
2) National Geographic: The Great Flood
3) 1927 Mississippi River Flood
4) Flood of 1927
5) Mississippi River Flood: 1993
6) Railroad Cars Trapped and Other Stories from Daily World
7) Science Question of the Week
From Site to Story: Minnesota Archaeology
Join an exploration of the Upper Mississippi's buried past in Minnesota.
James Buchanan Eads 1820 - 1887 from National Park Service
Learn about the man who became one of the great self taught engineers of the nineteenth century.
Legend of Steamboating the Rivers
Learn about steamboating, hear the sound of steam whistles, explore the parts of a steamboat, view steamboat pictures, and more.
Related Websites:
2) Old River News: Steamboats, Their Captains, Crews & Adventures
3) Steamboats
4) Stern Watch
5) Delta Queen
Life on the Mississippi: A Guide by J. Zwick
This site focuses on the writings of Mark Twain about the Mississippi River; contains a guide to texts of the book, biography, criticism, and the legacies of the book.
Related Websites:
2) Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
3) Mississippi River from Mark Twain at Large Exhibit
Louis Jolliet (1645-1700) Jacques Marquette (1637-1675) from Discoverers Web
Here you can read an account of the first French expedition on the Mississippi river in 1673.
Mississippi Headwaters Board (MHB)
The MHB is a body mandated by the Minnesota Legislature to protect and preserve the natural, cultural, scenic, scientific, and recreational values of the Mississippi River's first 400 miles.
Other Websites for the Upper Mississippi Basin:
2) Mississippi River (Upper)
3) Upper Mississippi River from Northeast-Midwest Institute
Mississippi River: Cape Girardeau Riverfront by D. Farrow & Rose City Net
Examine the history of the river from the perspective of a Missouri river city.
Mississippi River Basin Alliance (MRBA)
Begun in early 1992, the Alliance is a coalition that unites environmental justice organizations and traditional conservation groups around issues impacting the Mississippi River. In addition, the organization links Upper Basin people with those from the Lower Basin
Related Websites on the Lower Mississippi Basin:
2) Lower Mississippi River Conservation Committee (LMRCC)
3) Mississippi River (Lower)
Mississippi River Museum
This Museum, located in Dubuque, Iowa, is dedicated to collecting, interpreting and sharing the rich and important history of the Mississippi River, America's river systems, and our local and regional heritage. Click on "National Rivers Hall of Fame" to read short biographies of people who relied upon the river.
River of Song from PBS, The Filmmakers Collaborative, and The Smithsonian Institution
The story is told by the people who keep American music wonderfully alive with their varied sounds and voices -- from Minneapolis rock to St. Louis gospel and Memphis soul; from bluegrass bands in the Farm Belt to the blues in the Mississippi Delta; from Scandinavian fiddlers in the North Woods to Cajun stompers in the Louisiana bayous.
Websites For Teachers
Cub Pilot on the Mississippi
Become a pilot on the Mississippi.
Life on the Mississippi Past and Present (Grade 3) by T. Mercer
With the Mississippi River nearby, students will learn and appreciate the river for its past and present contributions. The area is dependent upon this mighty river for its very existence.
Old Man River: Getting to Know the Father of Waters (Grade 7) by M. Yoder & L. O'Brien
Students examine the physical features of the Mississippi River.
Mississippi River from Discovery School
At some point in teaching about the Mississippi River, expose students to the wealth of literature that the Mississippi and other rivers have engendered. This lesson plan guides students to create a booktalk on a Mississippi River book.
Mighty Mississippi from Education World
This lesson planning article includes ten activities that demonstrate the physical, social, political, and economic power of the Mississippi River.
Mississippi River (Grades 2-4) by K. Yamnitz
Students examine the importance of the Mississippi river and all its uses such as transportation, food, commercial purposes, and drinking water.
Mississippi River Lesson Plans (Grades 6-8) from Earth Trails
Here you find over thirty activities that include instructor notes, students activity, and assessment guides. You can also go to their main website at
Related Unit Plan:
2) Mighty Mississippi from Core Knowledge (Grade 5) by M. Vessells & C. Miller
River Life by K. McGough from National Geographic
Use this book to introduce children to plant and animal life of the Mississippi River.
St. Louis and the Mississippi River from,1607,7-155-13481_13482_13486-77968--,00.html
Learn about the history and economic development of St. Louis and the Mississippi River.
Mississippi River
river system
Mark Twain
navigation lock
Louisiana Delta
Mississippi mud
alluvial valley
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
"River Cam"
drainage basin
"Levee Cam"
Upper Mississippi River Basin
Hernando DeSoto
backwater slough
main channel
invasive species
Gateway Arch
Lake Itasca, MN
Lower Mississippi River Basin
Civil War
"Big River"
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 8/02. Updated 6/04.