From the Ground Up
Social Studies/Reading/Language Arts
Students become familiar with the geography of their own region and use what they learn to locate a similar area elsewhere. After researching the other region, they compare and contrast lifestyles in the two places to answer the question, “How does geography affect the way people live?”
What You Need
- maps of the region: physical, topographical, climate
- globe and world maps
- reference materials, such as atlases and encyclopedias
- nonfiction books about the geography of different areas
What to Do
- Have students work in groups to identify and locate the place where they live on a globe and on different maps. Ask students to volunteer information about the geography of their region, based on their own knowledge and experiences and what the maps reveal. Allow time for students to do additional research using the materials you have gathered.
- Bring the groups together and initiate a discussion on how the geography of their region affects their lifestyle. For example, if they live along a coast in a temperate region, how does this affect the way they spend the winter? Is their lifestyle different from someone living inland in a more northerly region? If any of the students have lived in other regions, encourage them to share experiences that are similar or different from what they now experience.
- Have students rejoin their groups and instruct them to use maps and a globe to locate the latitude nearest their home region. Suggest that they follow the latitude either west or east until they find a region they think is similar to their own. For example, both are mountainous, coastal, bounded by a major river, forested, or prairie.
- Tell each group to learn as much as they can about the region they chose. Students should be prepared to make a comparison between how people live in that region and in their own.
- Set aside time for each group to make a brief presentation of their findings. Encourage students to tell the name of the place they chose, point it out on a map, and then explain the similarities.
- To make the comparisons consistent, develop or have students develop a fact sheet with space to report on such features as climate, terrain, seasons, rainfall, snowfall, cities, agriculture, industries, and transportation. After each group has filled out a form, you can create a chart that incorporates all the information for easier comparison.
- Students will probably be especially interested in how people their own age live in the region they “visit.” They may be able to find this information in reference materials. Or, if you have access to an online commercial service or pen-pal listings, encourage students to make a connection with another class or an individual in the region they have familiarized themselves with. Have individual students share what they learn with the class.