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Cultural Geography Activities

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

Studying cultural geography helps students understand the how a person's location can affect their everyday lives and traditions. Use these activities to help your students learn about cultural geography.

Where People and Land Meet

When students eat Chinese food, they're probably not thinking that cultural geography has something to do with the rice in their bowls. Cultural geography helps us to understand the relationship between where a person lives and how it affects their traditions and daily lives. This includes globalization, language, art, religion, government, and economics.

Let's look at some activities to help students explore various aspects of cultural geography.

Globalization Skits

Materials

  • Pictures of food influenced by other cultures
  • Access to print/online resources

Teacher Directions

  • Define the concept of globalization in relation to cultural geography.
  • Show the class pictures of foods that have been influenced by other cultures. Discuss how globalization contributed to the creation of the food dish. For example, you could discuss how Italian immigrants were responsible for helping introduce pizza into American culture.
  • Divide the class into groups.
  • Have each group select a specific item, trend, etc. from another country that affected their culture. Groups can choose to focus on any area of culture including food, literature, art, dress, sports/recreation, etc.
  • The groups will research their topic and create a skit to show how globalization contributed to their culture being affected. For example, a group could show how anime culture from Japan can be seen in different books, movies, and TV shows because of the global presence of the Internet.
  • When the groups are finished, have them present their skits to the class.

Discussion Questions

  • How could your culture have influenced other countries?
  • How has globalization positively and negatively affected your country and culture?

Communication Books

Materials

  • Access to print/online resources
  • Blank paper
  • Art supplies (pencils, colored pencils, markers)

Teacher Directions

  • Discuss how location can influence a culture's language. For example, the Danish word 'hygge' relates to making yourself cozy possibly because Denmark is often cold and people have to get cozy around the fire.
  • Discuss how body language, proximity, and hand gestures can carry different meanings depending on your location. Giving a thumbs-up sign or shaking someone's hand might be a positive in America, but it could be offensive in another country.
  • Divide the class into pairs and have each pair select a country.
  • Have the pairs research the language and communication style of their country. Encourage the pairs to identify words, phrases, and communication traditions that are specific to the culture of the country.
  • Provide the pairs with blank paper and art supplies, and have them create communication books for their country. On each page, they should identify a word, phrase, or communication tradition from their country and how the country's location may have influenced it. Each page should also include a picture.
  • When the pairs are finished, have them present their books to the class.

Discussion Questions

  • What are some words, phrases, or communication styles from our country that are probably influenced by our location?
  • What words, phrases, or communication styles did you find interesting?

Comparing Religions

Materials

  • Map of the Middle East
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Access to print/online resources

Teacher Directions

  • Discuss the major religions of the Middle East and how its location influences the prevalence of people practicing Jewish, Islamic, and Christian faiths. Use a map of the Middle East to show the location of the Holy Land and various holy cities/cites for these faiths. Guide students to connect the predominant religions of the Middle East with the geographic locations of landmarks deemed holy by their faiths.
  • Discuss how certain religions may be more prevalent in certain areas and how they affect those communities. For example, there are many areas where Christianity is practiced in the Philippines because of Christian missionaries being sent there.
  • Divide the class into pairs and give each pair chart paper and markers.
  • Have the pairs select two countries and research the religions in both.
  • Each pair should create a Venn diagram to compare and contrast religion in these countries.
  • When the pairs are finished, have them share their charts with the class.

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