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Human Settlement and Geography

Main Core Tie

Social Studies - 3rd Grade
Standard 1 Objective 1

Time Frame

5 class periods of 60 minutes each




  • 2 hula hoops
  • Internet access
  • Projector
  • Chart paper
  • 25x25 grid paper
  • Lynee Cherry, A River Ran Wild
  • Virginia Lee Burton, The Little House
  • Chris Van Allsburg, Just a Dream
  • Graeme Base’s Uno’s Garden
  • Susan E. Goodman’s On this Spot—An Expedition Back Through Time

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • Students will understand why people settle in certain areas.
  • Students will understand how ecosystems influence community development.
  • Students will understand the needs of humans and how these needs impact the physical environment.
  • Students will know reasons why people settle where they do.
  • Students will know why some ecosystems have more people living in them than others.

Instructional Procedures

Students complete the Human Settlement and Geography Questionnaire.

Hula Hoop Activity demonstrating population density.

Place two hula hoops on floor. Two people stand in the first hula hoop. Have 5-7 people in second hula hoop. Instruct them to touch their toes or some other simple activity.

Discuss what they notice. How does this relate to population density? Which would you prefer? Why do people live in places with lots of people?

Display population density map.

Record student observations on chart paper for reference throughout activities and discussions. May wish to do a Traveling the Room (Students/groups rotate around the room adding their ideas/notes to charts) cooperative activity before having a whole class discussion.

  • What are the basic needs of humans? (Guide answers to food, shelter, clothing, and water.)
  • Where do most people live?
  • Why do people live there? (Good place to review latitude/longitude.)
  • How do people use/adapt their physical environment to basic needs?
  • What problems/changes result because of humans living there? (Possible responses: pollution, deforestation, reservoirs, landfills, etc.)

Grid Paper Activity demonstrating world population density (relates back to map and connects understanding to hula hoop activity).

Use one 25 x 25 grid paper per population range on map key.

Use the highest number in the range to color the appropriate number of squares to represent the maximum number of people living in a square kilometer.

Display the different grid sheets and discuss what they represent.

Review/change/add to responses on chart paper.

Ecosystem Research:
Now show world map of ecosystems. Predict where most people live. Justify thinking. Compare the population and ecosystem maps and make inferences. Review/change/add to response chart.

Briefly discuss what is meant by natural resources. This link provides a quick overview in Power Point format. Create a new class chart to record definition and examples.

Using the Biomes Organizer students in cooperative groups research different ecosystems to determine why people live in certain regions.

Refer to the Website Resource List for good sites for children to research. Check around your school library, class library, etc. because you probably already have lots of books you can use!

Student groups create a project to report to class. (Projects might include a diorama, poster, brochure, etc.) During presentations students take notes using the Ecosystem Graphic Organizer.

Refer class to both population and ecosystem maps. Why are some ecosystems more populous? Discuss how natural resources impact where people live?

Impact of Human Population on Natural Resources:

Brainstorm ways people use the physical environment, especially to meet their basic needs. Create a chart for reference. (Agriculture, recreation, energy, industry.)

Use the above chart to brainstorm how people impact environment. Record on separate chart.

Using the Impact Journal File to record information, read Lynee Cherry’s A River Ran Wild. Create a Chain Reaction Chart and record events. Discuss the chart. Have students compare river as it was in the beginning to the way the river is now. (They can pair up and have books open to the two pages.) Students record their observations on paper.

Read Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House. Create another chain reaction chart to track changes due to humans. Have students compare the physical environment with the house in the country to the house in the city. What changes have occurred? Why have these changes occurred? What happens to the physical environment when more people live in an area? Review/change/add to “use” chart and “impact” chart.

Other powerful read alouds: Chris Van Allsburg, Just a Dream; Graeme Base’s Uno’s Garden; Susan E. Goodman’s On this Spot—An Expedition Back Through Time

Student Research:
Break students into groups to research an issue on one of the charts.

Possible topics - endangered animals, recycling process, water pollution, air pollution, oil spills, landfills, agriculture, recreational land and water use

Man-made features, such as dams, canals, reservoirs, tunnels

Present research findings and discuss.

Show how the population has grown from A.D. 0 until 2050. Brainstorm why population might be growing exponentially—modern medicine extending life expectancy, transportation, easier access to food, tractors for increased food production, etc. Question how are we going to solve current and future problems.

Assessment Plan

Final Assessment:

Students complete the Human Settlement Questionnaire.

Created: 09/06/2008
Updated: 01/18/2018