Cultures, Critters, and Communities Curriculum Unit

Lesson 1: Places and People in My World

North Carolina Essential Standards

K.G.1 Use geographic representations and terms to describe surroundings.

1.G.1 Use geographic representations, terms and technologies to process information from a spatial perspective.  

2.G.1  Understand geographic representations, terms, and technology to process information from a spatial perspective.


Prerequisite Knowledge

Students will have a foundational knowledge of map terms and vocabulary due to prior lessons on reading a map, where they live, and the 7 continents.


Students will be able to:

  • use a map/globe/atlas to describe, verbally and/or in writing, where they live from their current local to a global perspective.
  • describe where they might live if they were in another geographical location (e.g., Port Elizabeth, South Africa) from a local to global perspective. (Note: Depending on grade level, this will include students being able to determine their street address, city, state, country, continent, and planet.)
  • notice differences or commonalities in the street, city, state, country and continent.


  • Students will be assessed through teacher observation, product output, and presentation of information.


Children's Books:

World Atlas by Anna Prokos

I Can Write a Book about Countries by Bobbie Kalman

A Kite’s Flight by William Gumede

A School Like Mine-Africa and the Middle East by Penny Smith and Zahavit Shalev  

Wonders of the World by Sandra Forty 

Online resources:


  • Multi-page Folded Graphic Organizer
  • Poster Board for each small group
  • Crayons/Markers

Prior Preparation

  • Trace the 7 continents on 4-5 white large poster boards using an overhead or document reader/projector to be used for small group cooperative learning. Each poster will have the world traced on it for individual groups.
  • Overlap and fold three 8.5x11 in. pieces of white paper to make a graphic organizer for each student, folded and stapled together.


  1. Introduce this unit entitled Cultures, Critters, and Communities by displaying a photograph of a South African World Heritage site.  
  2. Show students the map, globe, and graphic organizer they will use to identify and display understanding of geographical regions.  
  3. Say: Together, we will take a trip around the world, exploring its natural beauty and the diverse people and other living beings that make our planet an incredible place to live. By the end of this unit, you will be able to use maps and globes to describe where we live, describe places on the map we would like to live or visit, and understand commonalities/differences.

Guided Practice

Part I

  1. Read the story, A Kite’s Flight, a story which takes students on a journey across Africa following the kite’s flight over some of the great landmarks of Africa. Say: We will explore the diverse regions of Africa and its natural resources.  This is one continent, however there are 7 continents and each of them are unique and diverse.
  2. Show students photographs of landmarks and prominent places around the world from the book, Wonders of the World by Sandra Forty and photographs from Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, South Africa, Sydney, Australia, South America, Europe, Asia, North America, Oceania, and Antarctica. Say: We will take an even closer look at these  very diverse regions  on Google Earth before labeling the continents.  
  3. Explain that they will label a map of the continents.
  4. Show students an atlas, world map, and globe and explain that the map is a photograph of the world.
  5. Explain that the map is flat, but our world is not flat. Attempt to place a globe in a book (showing the book will not close).
  6. Then show the students a map and explain that they will work in small cooperative groups of 4 students each.
  7. Each group will  identify land and water by coloring and labeling the continents and oceans while looking at an atlas or world map. Ask students to locate the continent they live in and where landmarks and prominent places are located around the world.
  8. Ask students to look at the distance they live from landmarks and prominent places on the map by observing the miles/nautical miles between the locations.

Part II

  1. Explain how students will work independently on a “Me on the Map” graphic organizer.
  2. Review the expectations and information they will include in their graphic organizer, i.e. name, street address, city, state, country, continent, and planet.  
  3. Each student will create a graphic organizer with their personal information and a map indicating the specific locations  they are from.  
  4. Ask students if  any of their information would be the same if they lived in another location on the map?  (Feedback to students will include, “Great planning, fabulous understanding of locations by labeling, wonderful creativity, very neat penmanship, very colorful illustrations, wonderful time on task, great teamwork.”)  
  5. Students who finish early will use atlases, maps, and a globe to locate landmarks and prominent locations around the world they would like to visit and determine the country and continent they are located in. They will determine how they could travel to these locations from where they live.


  1. Students will work in small cooperative groups of 4 students each with each member of the group contributing to the map rubric.  
  2. Students will present their graphic organizer with a small group of 4-5 classmates. They will compare their information and look for similarities. Ask students to look for classmates who live on the same street.  Ask students what other information, such as cultural and physical geographical might be the same.  
  3. Students will think-pair-share with a partner. When they discover their findings they will share this information with the class at the front of the classroom.
  4. Students will understand that our physical and geographical regions are very different in many ways.


  1. To add an enrichment component to this lesson students can investigate the geographical regions of specific locations on the 7 continents map , showing mountain ranges, rivers, and lakes.  Students can do a “country study” on a region of their choice (e.g., South African languages, schools, sports, and currency.  
  2. A School Like Mine-Africa and the Middle East by Penny Smith and Zahavit Shalev and Wonders of the World by Sandra Forty are excellent resources for enrichment tasks.