Economics & 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.

Studying the relationship between economics and geography is a way to help high school students gain a deeper understanding of the world. This lesson offers some activities that will support this aspect of your instruction.

Teaching Economics, Teaching Geography

As a high school social studies teacher, you probably spend a lot of time working on history and civics. At the same time, you know that economics and geography are also key facets of social studies. Regardless of the specific location and chronology of your curriculum, if you help students understand the ways that economics and geography relate to each other, you are equipping them with critical thinking and analysis skills that they can apply to any history learning or reading about current events.

To facilitate the understanding of this relationship, it can help to have a repertoire of activities you can incorporate into your instruction. The activities in this lesson focus on the relationship between economics and geography.

Visual Activities

Here, you will find activities that appeal to students who learn best using images and graphic organizers.

Images of Economies

For this activity, you will need two to three different images taken from different economies. These can be photographs, illustrations, or tables, depending on the specific region or time period you are studying. For example:

  • Picture of a barter economy
  • Table showing stock market earnings
  • Map showing current or historical trade routes
  • Photograph of an economic council

As a class, discuss the images you are looking at in relation to these three questions:

  • What does this image show you about the economy of the place or time period you are learning about?
  • What do you already know about the geographic features of this time or place?
  • What might be a connection you can make between geography and economics, based on the image before you?

If you have time, break students into small groups to repeat the activity using a different image.

Illustrate the Impact

After students have some rudimentary understanding of some of the ways geography and economics can intersect, give them this opportunity to engage their artistic skills while enhancing their comprehension.

Ask each student to draw a sketch or create a comic strip showing at least one way that the geography of a region can impact the economy of that region. Then, ask them to draw a second image or comic showing the impact of economy on geography. Display students' illustrations for classmates to examine.

Kinesthetic Activities

This section offers activities that allow students to move their bodies while learning about economics and geography.

Five Themes

The five themes of geography are usually understood as location, place, human-environment interaction, movement, and region. Break your students up into five small groups, and assign each group one of these themes.

Ask students to think about the given theme in relation to the region and time period you are studying. They should create a brief skit showing the way their geographic theme plays out in that region, and how this impacts or impacted the economy of that region.

Leave time for students to share their skits and reflect on each of the five themes as it relates to economics.

Global Geography, Global Economics

If your students are studying current events or modern world history, they are probably becoming increasingly aware of the ways in which geography and economics can transcend particular spaces and time. Work outside or in the gym for this activity, and have your students help you draw a large world map on the ground with chalk.

Then, ask them to move around the map they have created, labeling countries and regions according to their current economic systems. Finally, ask them to move around again with a different color chalk, now labeling regions according to geographic features.

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