1. Take a student migration poll.
Poll students and tally the results. Ask:

  • Who has ever lived somewhere else?
  • Who has lived in a different city or town?
  • Who has lived in a different state?
  • Who has lived in a different country?

Then invite volunteers to share their experiences. Ask:

  • Why did your family move?
  • How did you feel during your move to a new home? How did you feel after?


2. Have students discuss a new place they might like to move.
Ask students to think about a place anywhere in the world they might like to move, either now or when they are older. Give students some time to silently brainstorm a list of reasons why they would like to move there. Then invite volunteers to share their location and answer the following questions:

  • Where would you like to move?
  • Why did you choose that location?
  • Are there any bad things about moving to this place? What would you miss about where you are now?

Draw a simple T-Chart on the board and record the pros and cons as students describe the new place.

3. Have students discuss why people might move to your area.
Ask students to think about reasons people might want to move to your town, city, or state. Possible answers could be related to the weather and climate, job opportunities, natural resources, the economy, culture, and more. Ask students which of these they considered when they thought about the new place they might like to move to.

4. Introduce the term migration and brainstorm questions about human migration.
Ask students what they think migration means. Students’ answers may relate to the migration of birds, butterflies, or other animals. Explain to students that human migration is the movement of people from one place in the world to another. Ask: What questions do you have about human migration? Record students’ questions on the board.


Subjects & Disciplines

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • explain the pros and cons of moving to a new place
  • explain why people might move to their area
  • define vocabulary term

Teaching Approach

  • Learning-for-use

Teaching Methods

  • Brainstorming
  • Discussions

National Standards, Principles, and Practices

National Council for Social Studies Curriculum Standards

Theme 3
People, Places, and Environments

National Geography Standards

Standard 9
The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth's surface


What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Markers
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Pens

Background & Vocabulary

Background Information

Human migration is the movement of people from one place in the world to another. It’s important to understand why people move.

Prior Knowledge

  • None


Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry

human migration


the movement of people from one place to another.


Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.


Nancee Hunter


Christina Riska, National Geographic Society

Expert Reviewer

Andrew C. Clarke, University of Otago, Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, Dunedin, New Zealand


The idea for this activity was inspired by Marie Loiselle of the Maharishi School in Fairfield, Iowa, who received a teacher grant from the National Geographic Education Foundation in support of a project called Geographic Learning and City Growth.


adapted from National Geographic Xpeditions lesson “Migration: Reasons to Move”

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