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Five Themes of Geography

Subject Area: Social Studies / Geography

Grade Level(s): 7-12

Duration of Activity: 1 week

Description of Activity:

Students will create a multi-media presentation explaining the five themes of geography. The themes and their two-part definitions are as follows:

Place Human features
Physical features
Region Region united by similar physical conditions
United by common cultural traits
Interaction People adapt to the environment
People change the environment
Location Absolute location (latitude and longitude)
Relative location (in relation to another place)
Movement Travel from place to place
Exchange of goods and ideas


  • Students will become more aware of the five themes of geography, how these themes affect the students' everyday lives, and the influence the issues involved in the five themes have on history.
  • Students will also gain technology skills by creating their Microsoft PowerPoint presentations and doing research on the Internet.


  • Computers with Internet connections
  • Microsoft PowerPoint software
  • LCD projector or large screen monitor
  • Scanner
  • Handout 1: Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation Checklist

Prerequisites (skills or background needed):

  • Students must have a basic knowledge of Internet usage and Microsoft PowerPoint skills. The teacher may reduce the amount of time needed and the level of search skills needed by providing a file for students to draw from rather than allowing them to search the Internet for their pictures. This can be in the form of a Web page or a word processing document with links.


Teacher Component:

  1. The teacher will introduce the students to the five themes of geography listed above and the explanations of each of them using the board or the overhead projector to possibly create a graphic organizer showing this material.
  2. After students are comfortable with this material, the teacher will explain to them that they will be creating Microsoft PowerPoint slides with pictures showing examples of each of the five themes of geography.
  3. The teacher will assist students as they search the Internet or pull pictures from a file that the teacher has already prepared beforehand. These pictures should demonstrate the students understanding of each of the two-part definitions of the five themes.

Student Activities:

  1. Students will create a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation by creating slides that demonstrate their understanding of the five themes of geography.
  2. For each theme students will be required to create a slide that shows the theme of geography being presented, the two parts of the definition of the theme, and a picture that corresponds with each of the parts of the definition.
  3. Students will also need to create an introductory slide for their presentation and a closing slide. Students may use their creative skills in producing their slides using sound, animation, transitions, and color as long as they meet the basic requirements for each slide.
  4. Students may search the Internet to find the appropriate pictures to use in their slide shows; however, this may take more time than can be to devoted to this lesson. A teacher-created folder of many different pictures that could be used in the slides may be more appropriate and save time. This would also eliminate the possibility of students inappropriately surfing the Internet as well as help with students who may not have been given permission by their parents to use the Internet at school. The folder would serve the same purpose because students would still have to demonstrate their knowledge of the five themes of geography by selecting the appropriate pictures to go with each theme.


  • Creating a folder of pictures for students to select from could be considered an accommodation for students who, for one reason or another, might lack the skills necessary to conduct a search for appropriate pictures for their slides.
  • Students might also be grouped in order to allow students with better technology skills to help students lacking in that area. Groups could be as large or as small as the teacher and the resources available dictate, but each student should have at least one slide that he/she has created alone to demonstrate his/her understanding of that theme of geography.
  • This lesson could also be conducted without the use of computers or the Internet by allowing students to cut and paste pictures from magazines or to draw the pictures themselves and place them into a booklet or poster format to be presented.

Extension Activities:

  • To extend this lesson, students could be required to create a glossary of geography terms and their definitions that relate to the five themes of geography. The glossary of terms could be added at the end of the slide presentation.
  • Students could also present their slide presentations to the class individually or as groups using a large screen monitor or an LCD projector. Students could vote on which presentations they felt best presented the material to the class.


  • This lesson could easily be integrated with language arts by having students write short stories using one or more of the five themes of geography in their writing. Students could do this along with their Microsoft PowerPoint presentations or in cooperation with their language arts teachers as a separate assignment.


  1. A checklist will probably work best for this type of assignment. Teachers can adjust the checklist to fit any type of criteria that they wish to consider. In the rubric accompanying this lesson, the introductory and the concluding slides count as 25% of the grade (13 points for the introductory slide and 12 points for the concluding slide). The five slides showing the themes of geography count as 75% of the total grade or 15 points per slide.

  2. Handout 1: Five Themes of Geography Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation Checklist

Curriculum Frameworks


Introduction to World Geography

  1. Explain the absolute and relative location of positions of people and places in Earth's surface. (C, H, G, E)

    • Locate places using a system of mathematical coordinates in an arbitrary grid system (absolute location).

    • Describe locations in terms of relationships with other locations (relative location).

    • Discuss maps and globes as a primary geographic tool.

  2. Distinguish the physical and human characteristics of places on Earth. (C, H, G, E)

    • Compare and contrast the physical characteristics of places in different parts of the world.
    • Cite examples of how places can be changed as a result of natural process (e.g., catastrophic events, etc.).
    • Compare and contrast the human characteristics of places in different parts of the world.
    • Identify distributions of cultural characteristics (e.g., language, religious/belief systems, political systems, economic systems, and social institutions).

  3. Assess how people interact with, adapt to, and modify the environment. (C, H, G, E)
    • Identify why people interact with the environment.
    • Illustrate how people interact with the environment.
    • Detail how human alteration of physical environments has had positive and negative consequences.

  4. Explain varied patterns in the movements of people, goods, and ideas. (C, H, G, E)
    • Discuss why human activities require movement.
    • Describe ways in which people move themselves, their goods, and their ideas across the earth.
    • Evaluate how changes in transportation and communication technology influence the movement of people, goods, and ideas.

  5. Relate how regions are formed and changed. (C, H, G, E)
    • Explain why regions are basic units of geography.
    • Explain how regions may be defined by cultural or physical features or by a combination of both.

National Educational Technology Standards (NETS)
Performance Indicators Grades 6-8:

  1. Use content-specific tool, software, and simulations (e.g., environmental probes, graphing calculators, exploratory environments, Web tools) to support learning and research. (3,5)
  2. Apply productivity/ multimedia tools and peripherals to support personal productivity, group collaboration, and learning throughout the curriculum. (3,6)
  3. Design, develop, publish, and present products (e.g., Web pages, videotapes) using technology resources that demonstrate and communicate curriculum concepts to audiences inside and outside the classroom. (4,5,6)
  4. Select and use appropriate tools and technology resources to accomplish a variety of tasks and solve problems. (5,6)


26 Geographic Perspectives (Level 11-21/22)
Demonstrate an understanding of concepts and process skills related to the study of the world's people, places, and environments, and their interactions over time.

Construct answers, use geographic tools, and create solutions or products using inquiry skills and knowledge related to geographic perspectives.

Link and Feedback to Author(s):

Tim West, Tupelo Middle School, Tupelo, MS

Handout 1:
Five Themes of Geography PowerPoint Presentation Checklist
Word Acrobat
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