The Great Lakes

The Great Lakes: They’re Bigger Than Your Average Lake!

If you were in a space ship flying above North America, you’d notice five very big bodies of water located on the border between the United States and Canada. They’re called the Great Lakes, and their names are: Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. Here’s an actual satellite photo that gives you a bird’s-eye view of what they look like from space:The Great LakesThe Great Lakes are freshwater lakes, which means they aren’t salty like oceans or seas. But the Great Lakes are so big that they do have ocean-like features: they have rolling waves, they have strong currents, they’re very deep, and they effect the weather. That’s why the Great Lakes are sometimes called “inland seas.”

Water Flow of the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes Are Connected to Each Other and to the Atlantic Ocean

The five Great Lakes are interconnected, which means that water flows (and ships can move) from one lake to another.

The water flows from Lake Superior, to Lake Huron, to Lake Michigan, and then to Lake Erie. Water from Lake Erie flows over Niagara Falls and then flows into Lake Ontario. From there, the water travels to the St. Lawrence River, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean.

Originally, the St. Lawrence River wasn’t deep enough in some places for ocean-going ships to pass through it. So Canada and the United States built a series of locks, channels, and canals called The St. Lawrence Seaway. The Seaway allows big ocean-going ships to go from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Ontario without getting stuck in the St. Lawrence River.

About North America

It’s a Fact: North America is one of the seven continents. The other continents are: South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia-Oceania, and Antarctica.

It’s a Fact: North America has 23 countries and dozens of smaller areas called “possessions,” or “territories.”

It’s a Fact: The three languages that are most commonly spoken in North America are English, Spanish, and French.

It’s a Fact: The United States is the largest country in North America. In fact, over half the people who live in North America are United States citizens.

It’s a Fact: North America is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west, the the Atlantic Ocean on the east, and the Arctic Ocean to the north.

More Fun Facts

Fun Fact: The Great Lakes contain over 20% of the world’s surface fresh water. They contain about 84% of North America’s surface freshwater supply.

Fun Fact: The total surface area of the Great Lakes is about 94,250 square miles (244,000 square kilometers). That makes it the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth (as measured by surface area).

Fun Fact: Many cities are located along the Great Lakes. Some of the major cities include: Chicago, Toronto, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Buffalo.

Fun Fact: Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world as measured by surface area. There is however, a huge freshwater lake in Russia (it’s called Lake Baikal) that is much deeper, and holds much more water than Lake Superior. Lake Baikal is so big, in fact, that it holds more water than all five Great Lakes combined.

Fun Fact: There are about 35,000 islands scattered throughout the Great Lakes.

Fun Fact: The largest island in the Great Lakes is Manitoulin Island, which is located on the Canadian side of Lake Huron.  Manitoulin Island, which has an area of over 1,000 square miles, is the largest freshwater island in the world. It’s so big that it has 108 lakes of its own, some of which have their own islands (which makes them “islands within islands”).

Questions and Answers
Just for fun,
see if you can answer these questions.

Which is the biggest of the 5 Great Lakes? Is it Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, or Ontario?
Lake Superior is the biggest of the 5 Great Lakes.

Are the 5 Great Lakes connected, or are they all separated by land?

They’re connected, which means that water flows from lake to lake until it ends up in the St. Lawrence River. From there, the water flows to the Atlantic Ocean.

Is the St. Lawrence Seaway used by ships, trains, trucks, or pedestrians?
It’s used by ships to travel between the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Ontario.

How many countries are in North America? Is it 3, 13, 23, or 33?
There are 23 countries in North America plus numerous other “territories” and “possessions.”

Write Your Own Story

If you have time, you can write a story of your own.

Here are a couple of story ideas you can choose from.

Story Idea #1: You can write about some of the interesting things you learned about the Great Lakes.

Or

Story Idea #2: Imagine you owned a boat that was big enough to sail all the way from Lake superior to the Atlantic Ocean? What would your trip be like? What are some of the things you’d see along the way?

To help you write a better essay, we have some helpful hints and timely tips.

Today's Ryder Riddle
Here's a Riddle for You:
Why can't a man living in the United States be buried in Canada?
Because he’s still living!

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For fun-to-read books about a girl detective who homeschools on a train... check out The Mystery Ryders, a series from the creators of the Homeschool Express.

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