From the Ground Up
Social Studies Activity
In this activity 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
- Various maps of the region: physical, topographical, climate
- A 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 on a globe and on different maps,
the place where they live. 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 reform 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 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 spaces 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 on-line
commercial service or pen-pal listings, (example: Intercultural E-Mail Classroom Connections) encourage students to make a connection with another class or an
individual in the region they have familiarized themselves with. Encourage individual students to share
what they learn with the class.
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