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Culture & Geography Activities for High School

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Understanding the relationship between culture and geography is a big part of developing a nuanced understanding of human life. This lesson offers some diverse and meaningful activities to supplement your instruction.

Teaching Geography, Teaching Culture

As a high school teacher of social studies, you want your students to think deeply and critically about why and how civilizations work. This means understanding government, history, andeconomics. It also, however, means developing a careful understanding of geography.

You already know that geography is about more than just learning how to read a map or knowing where places are in the world. Geography is also inextricably intertwined with culture, and your students will benefit from learning more about how this relationship works.

To teach your students more about the connection between culture and geography, it can help to have some activities to incorporate into your instruction. The activities in this lesson appeal to a variety of learning styles and will help your students understand culture and geography.

Visual Activities

Here, you will find activities that appeal to visual learners, those who internalize new concepts and skills best via images and graphic organizers.

World Photographs

Split your students up into small groups for this activity. Give each group a collection of ten to fifteen images of people from around the world. All of the images should come from approximately the same time period, whether historical or current. Then, ask students to analyze each image in relation to these questions:

  • What is happening in this picture?
  • What can you tell about culture from looking at this picture?
  • What can you tell about geography from looking at this picture?
  • What does this picture make you think or wonder about the relationship between geography and culture?

Bring students together to discuss their answers and generalize about major understandings.

Compare and Contrast

Sometimes, looking at similarities and differences among regions can be a great way to learn more about the very real ways geography can influence culture.

As a class, complete a two-way Venn diagram that compares and contrasts the geographical and cultural characteristics of two different regions within the United States. Then, have students work with partners to complete a similar Venn diagram but this time, they should think about two different regions of the world. Finally, let students share what they came up with and discuss overall observations about geography and culture.

Tactile Activities

The activities in this section ask students to use their hands and bodies to form deeper understandings of culture and geography.

Newscast Interview

Let your students work in small groups and have each group focus on a different country or region of the world. Ask them to prepare a skit in the form of a newscast sharing information about some cultural traditions and norms from this part of the world, with a particular focus on geography and its influence on culture. Students can create props, scenery, and costumes for their skits. Make sure to leave time for them to perform for classmates.

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