• 1. Brainstorm what defines a place.
    Ask students to brainstorm what defines a place. Provide examples to get them started, such as:

    • people
    • weather
    • landscape
    • plant life
    • animal life

    Have students work in small groups to write their own lists. Then, invite groups to share their ideas and write a class list on the board.

    2. Have students identify what defines your town as a place.
    Ask students to think about what defines your town as a place. Have them use the discussion to add ideas to the original list. If needed, prompt them with questions, such as:

    • Who lives here? What languages do they speak?
    • Is the neighborhood in a city, suburb, or the country?
    • What is the weather like? How cold or warm does it get? Does it rain much?
    • What does the land look like? Are there mountains, lakes, or beaches nearby?
    • What plants and animals live here?


    3. Generate a class list of questions about place.
    Have students share any questions they have about what defines a place or why it is important. Ask: What are you curious about? What would you like to know more about?

  • Subjects & Disciplines

    Learning Objectives

    Students will:

    • explain what defines a place
    • identify what defines their town as a place

    Teaching Approach

    • Learning-for-use

    Teaching Methods

    • Brainstorming
    • Discussions

    Skills Summary

    This activity targets the following skills:

    National Standards, Principles, and Practices

    National Council for Social Studies Curriculum Standards

    • Theme 3:  People, Places, and Environments

    National Geography Standards

    • Standard 4:  The physical and human characteristics of places
  • What You’ll Need

    Materials You Provide

    • Paper
    • Pencils
    • Pens

    Physical Space

    • Classroom


    • Large-group instruction
  • Background Information

    A place is defined by its natural and human features. You can learn a lot about what defines a place by looking at your own community.

    Prior Knowledge

    • None


    Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    human features Noun

    characteristics of the environment created by human beings.

    natural feature Noun

    characteristic of a geographic region that was not created by humans.

    place Noun

    area having unique physical and human characteristics.