Today we went over culture and what makes a civilization. I gave them 2 handouts before the slideshow, one a graphical organizer where they wrote the word culture in the center and then filled the circles around it with things that define a culture. I said, “What if I dropped you off in another country and didn’t tell you where you were. How would you know where you were? What clues could you use?” Some kids immediately responded with language, clothing and one said the effiel tower which led them to put down architecture or buildings. I gave them some time to fill that out and then they had a matching worksheet where they had to match the word to its definition. These words were all things that define a civilization: government, economy, urbanization, specialization, etc. This was a bit tougher, especially for the younger kids (9 years old), so after they worked on a bit I went ahead and did a slideshow presentation where I talked about all the words on the sheet. I used examples from Egypt, Mesoamerica and Mesopotamia for each subject.
I used a freebie from TeacherspayTeachers.com, What is a Civilization? by Kelly Grant Horrocks as the basis for my slideshow and that is where I got the worksheets.
I had the kids do one more activity (labeling a world map) because I noticed in a previous class that many of these students could not identify the continents on a world map and this kind of blew my mind. I grew up with National Geographic maps glued to our bathroom wall and when my kids did Story of the World when they were younger we didn’t do all the map activities, but I made sure they could label continents. When ever we talk about a particular country we locate it on a map or the globe first. Another activity we did when the kids were elementary age was put a sticker on a world map for items we bought, bananas from Ecuador , go put the sticker on the map, apples from Washington State, sticker on the map, cotton shirt from Egypt, put a sticker on the map. The kids loved doing this and I think its a great way to make geography a little more interesting.