Unit 3: How Do We Learn About Places?



    Overarching Question:

     How does where we live affect how we live?


    Previous Unit:


     How Do We Get What We
    Need or Want?



    This Unit:

     How Do We Learn About Places?

    Next Unit:
    How Do We Learn About
    the Past?


    Big Picture Graphic


    Questions to Focus Assessment and Instruction:
    1. How do we locate places?
    2. How do we describe what places are like?
    3. How do people adapt to and modify places?

    Types of Thinking:

    Non-Linguistic Representations
    Compare and Contrast 



    Unit Abstract (may include Historical Overview): In this unit students expand on the foundational knowledge of geography by exploring the geographic themes of location, place, region and human/environment interaction. Emphasis is placed on observing the environment around them using the school playground. The unit begins with students exploring the concepts of maps and aerial perspective with the book Me on the Map or a similar book. Students create a map of their own classroom. Students are also introduced to globes and learn how map makers distinguish between land and water. The concept of absolute and relative location is introduced as students learn about absolute location using their own address and relative location as they tour the school. Students then explore the geographic theme of place as they learn to distinguish between natural (physical), characteristics and human characteristics. Using a school map, students identify regions in their school and understand that a region is a group of similar places. Finally, students are introduced to the geographic theme of human/environment interaction. Using the book Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel, or a similar book, students learn that humans modify or change their environment. In a integrated lesson,students explore how people adapt to their, environment by making seasonal changes in their clothing, homes, and activities.
    Focus Questions:
    1. How do we describe what places are like?
    2. How do we locate places?
    3. How do people adapt to and modify the environment of places?
    I Can Statements:
    I can make a map of my classroom from a bird's eye view.
    I can find bodies of water and land masses on a globe or map.
    I can write my address.
    I can describe where locations or things are using direction words.
    I can describe physical and human characteristics of locations.
    I can describe ways people change the environment.
    I can describe ways people adapt to the environment.








    Art Paper and Drawing Materials Such as Markers and Crayons

    Chart Paper and Markers

    Overhead Projector or Document Camera and Projector

    Student Resources:

    Our Big Home by Linda Glaser  Milbrook Press 2002
    A Forest Habitat by Bobbie Kalman  Crabtree Publ.  2006
    My World and Globe by Ira Wolfman,  Workman Publ. 2003
    A Desert Habitat by Kelly Macauley,  Crabtree Publ.  2006
    All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLaran  Harper-Collins  1994
    Arctic Habitat  by Molly Alaian Crabtree Publ. 2006
    Water Habitats by Molly Alaian  Crabtree Publ.  2006
    Antarctic Habitat by Molly Alaian  Crabtree Publ. 2006
    Wetland Habitat by Molly Alaian  Crabtree Publ. 2006
    Grassland Habitat by Kelley Macauley  Crabtree Publ.  2006
    Bauer, David. People Change the Land. Mankato, MN: Yellow Umbrella Books (Capstone Press),2004.


    Burton, Virginia Lee. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1977.




    Teacher Resources:


    Beginning Geography Guided Reading Kit: Looking at Maps and Globes. New York: Scholastic,2007.

    Beginning Geography: How to Use a Map. New York: Evan-Moor, 2007.



    Channell, Geanie, et. Al. Focus: Grades K-2 Economics. National Council on Economic Education,2007.


    Google Earth. 27 August 2008  http://www.earth.google.com




    Huneck, Stephen. Sally Goes to the Mountains. New York: Harry N. Abrams Publishing, 2001.




    Locker, Thomas. Mountain Dance. New York: Silver Whistle Books, 2001.


    Maps and Aerial Views. 27 August 2008  http://www.mapquest.com



    Royston, Angela. Rivers (Heinemann First Library). New York: Heinemann, 2005.




    Ryan, Pam Munoz. Hello, Ocean. New York: Charlesbridge Publishers, 2001.



    Sweeney, Joan. Me On the Map. New York: Dragonfly Books, 1996.

    Take it To Your Seat Geography Center for Grade 1. New York: Evan-Moor, 2007.


    >Whitehouse, Patricia.. Plains (Heinemann First Library). New York: Heinemann, 2005.


    Resources for Further Professional Knowledge:
    The Eighteen National Geography Standards. 27 August 2008>.http://www.ncge.org/publications/tutorial/standards 

    First Grade Social Studies Websites.  Aug. 27, 2008



    National Council for the Social Studies. 27 August 2008 http://www.ncss.org 


    Social Studies Lesson Plans and Resources

    . 27 August 2008 http://www.csun.edu/~hcedu013 


    Strategies for Teaching Social Studies

    . 27 August 2008http://www.udel.edu/dssep/strategies.htm.


    Teaching Social Studies. 27 August 2008< http://www.proteacher.org/c/185_Teaching_Social_Studies.html 





    Lesson 1: Making a Map of Our Classroom 
    Lesson 1 Supplemental Materials:
    Content Expectations:
    1-G1.0.1: Construct simple maps of the classroom to demonstrate aerial perspective.
    Key Concepts:
    aerial perspective (bird's eye view), location, map




    This lesson begins with a review of maps and globes and how they represent places.The teacher displays a photo of a penny from the linear (side) and aerial perspectives. Students practice drawing different perspectives as they stand and look down at a penny and tell what they see. Next, students place the penny on the desk and move to eye level with the side of the desk and describe the penny from this view and draw it again. The class then identifies the similarities and differences between the two. Using a Venn diagram, the teacher charts the similarities and differences students see in the perspectives. Students then close their eyes and imagine they area bird flying over the school playground. The teacher poses the following question: What does the playground look like to a bird? With their eyes still closed students imagine the bird is now flying over their classroom. Students describe what they see. The teacher displays the first two pages of the book Me on the Map or an illustration of a place and a map of the same place. The illustration could be an aerial photograph of the school and the corresponding map of the school from an Internet website such as Google Earth or Mapquest. The teacher explains that maps give an overhead picture of a place. The class works together to create an aerial map of the classroom. As the teacher constructs the classroom map on large chart paper, students create their own version on a large piece of white drawing paper. During the map project the teacher explains how symbols are used in a map key to represent things on a map. For example, a rectangle could be used to show classroom tables.


    Lesson 2: Exploring Maps and Globes
    Lesson 2 Supplemental Materials:
    Content Expectations:
    1-G1.0.1: Construct simple maps of the classroon to demonstrate aerial perspective.
    1-G1.0.4: Distinguish between landmasses and bodies of water using maps and globes.








    Key Concepts: bodies of water, globe, land masses, map
    Abstract: Using the book Me On the Map, or a similar book, students identify examples of aerialor birds eye view as the teacher shares the story. While reading the story, the teacher identifies land and bodies of water on the maps. The teacher poses the question, how can we tell this is water or land? The teacher explains that map makers use color to distinguish between land and water on a map. Students trace the outlines of land or water on the map.. After reading, the teacher turns to the section that describes the Earth as a large ball. The teacher points out land and water on these illustrations. Using a globe, the teacher explains that a globe is a model of our Earth. Students are asked to come up and point out land and water on the globe. Finally, students color an outline map differentiating between land and water.
    Lesson 3: Absolute Location: Addresses of Places
    Lesson 3 Supplemental Materials:
    Content Expectations:
    1-G1.0.2: Give examples of places that have absolute locations (e.g., home address, school address).
    Key concepts: absolute location, address

    This lesson begins with the teacher reviewing the idea that maps help us locate, or find,

    places. The teacher explains that each of us lives in a specific or unique location. We live in a

    house, on a street, in a town, in a state of the United States. The teacher explains that an address, like a map helps us locate, or find places. Students understand that each address is unique and no one else has the same address. The teacher writes the school address on a board or overhead and explains that an address is made up of a house or building number, a street name, a city or town, the state, and zip code. Next, students are asked to draw their home and with the teacher’s help, write their address in large letters above it. As an optional project each student is given a postcard which they address and mail to themselves.

    Lesson 4:   Relative Location:  Describing the Location of Places in our School
    Lesson 4 Supplemental Materials:
    Content Expectations:
    1-G1.0.3:   Use personal directions (left, right, front, back) to describe the relative location of significnant places in the school environment.
    1-G2.0.2:   Describe the unifying characteristics and/or boundaries of different school regions(e.g., playground, reading corner, library, restroom).
    Key Concepts:  direction, personal directions, region, relative location

    This lesson begins with students using their body as a model of personal directions.


    Students practice waving their left and right hands, feet, etc. and facing front and back. The class then listens to and does the “Hokey Pokey”. Once students are adept at using personal directions, they pair up and take a ‘field trip’ through the school. Pairs take turns describing where things are relative to something else. For example, ‘the gym is in front of us’, ‘the library is on our right’, etc. In the classroom the teacher guides students in creating a list on large chart paper of the various regions or parts of the school which they discovered on their ‘field trip’ such as the office area, the gym, the library, the playground, bathrooms, a classroom wing, etc. Next, students are asked to think of descriptors for each of the regions such as library: a place where people come to get books. These descriptors are written on the chart paper next to the appropriate region. The teacher explains that regions are areas that are alike because they have common characteristics. Finally, students work together to identify and highlight regions such as classrooms, bathrooms, library, office, etc. on a school map. Each region is a different color for example all classrooms are one color, all bathrooms are a different color, etc.

    Lesson 5:     Human and Physical Characteristics of Places
    Lesson 5 Supplemental Materials:
    Content Expectations: 
    1-G2.0.1:  Distinguish between physical ( e.g., clouds, trees, weather)  and human (e.g., buildings, playgrounds, sidewalks) characteristics of places.
    Key Concepts:  human characteristics, physical characteristics, place

    This lesson begins with a ‘field trip’ to the school playground. On the playground the

    teacher explains that some things on or near the playground such as the swing set have been

    made by humans and some things like grass are part of nature. In a game format similar to the

    game I Spy students identify both natural (physical) and human things on or near the playground. The teacher keeps a list of the things identified during the game. In the classroom, studentsdiscuss the list of human and natural (physical characteristics they identified on the playground.  Students work in pairs with a set of cards picturing both natural (physical), characteristics and human characteristics and sort them into two piles. The class shares their sorting and discusses why they chose human or natural for each. The teacher explains that the class is going to explore natural (physical) characteristics further. Using three visuals, showing a forest, a mountain and a plain, students are asked to describe these pictures. The teacher then explains that these pictures show three important types of landforms and that they are all natural (physical) characteristics  that help us describe what a place is like. The teacher identifies each photo as forest, mountain and plain. Next, the teacher uses three more visuals showing a lake, ocean, and river. The teacher then explains that these visuals show three important bodies of water and briefly describes each landform.


    Lesson 6:  Changing Our Environment
    Lesson 6 Supplemental Materials:
    Content Expectations: 
    1-G5.0.1:  Describe ways in which people modify ( e.g., cutting down trees, buildiing roads) and adapt to the enviroment( e.g., clothing, housing, transportation).
    Key Concepts:  Human/Environment interaction, modify
    Abstract: This lesson serves as an introduction to the geographic theme of human/environment interaction. It builds on the previous lesson on human characteristics by exploring how buildinghuman characteristics like houses, cities, roads and tunnels changes our environment. Using the book, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel or a similar book, the teacher guides students inidentifying the things that Mike and his steam shovel helped to build, such as a tunnel a basementfor a skyscraper. Students are asked if these are human or natural characteristics of a place. Atthe conclusion of the book the teacher explains that when people build things they change theland. The teacher then guides a discussion in which students try to identify specific ways the landis changed such as trees are cut down, fields become houses, etc. On a T-chart labeled with asmiley face on one side and a frown face on the other the teacher guides students in understanding that there are both positive and negative consequences in changing the land. The teacher writes "trees are cut down" on the frown side and "new homes for people are built" on the other.
    Lesson 7:  Adapting to our Enviroment
    Lesson 7 Supplemental Materials:
    Content Expectations: 
    1-G5.0.1.:  Describe ways in which people modify ( e. g., cutting down trees, building roads) and adapt to the environment (e.g. , clothing, housing , transportation).
    E. ES. 01.22:  Describe and compare weather relates to the four seasons in terms of temperature, cloud cover, precipitation, and wind. (Science)
    Key Concepts:  adapt, human/environment interaction, season, weather

    This lesson helps students begin to understand that just as humans modify, or change,their environment, they also adapt to their environment. Humans make adaptations in order to live in their environment. The lesson begins with the teacher holding up a pair of mittens, a scarf and a warm hat. The teacher poses the questions: when do we wear these and why? Next, on a chart showing the four seasons, the teacher asks students to describe the weather in each of the seasons. After student’s weather descriptions are charted, the teacher writes ‘hat, mittens, scarf’ in the winter column. Students are asked to identify clothing used for each of the other three seasons. The teacher then explains that weather and the seasons are examples of physical characteristics that help us describe a place. The teacher adds to chart other things we do to adapt to seasonal changes. Examples would be turning on the heat in winter, opening the windows in spring, turning on an air conditioner in summer, and raking leaves off the lawn in fall. Finally, on a piece of paper with four squares labeled by season, students draw an example of an activity they do in each season such as building a snowman in winter and swimming in summer.


    Last Modified on 1/20/2009 2:08:44 PM


Last Modified on October 2, 2018