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Introducing the 5 Themes of Geography at the Beginning of the Year

Introducing the 5 themes of geography at the beginning of the year

One of the foundational concepts of a high-quality social studies education is an understanding of geography. When students can make connections, see patterns, and understand geography more than just the memorization of names and places, they can make greater meaning of the world.

The 5 Themes of Geography Framework:

To provide a guide for teachers, the National Council for Geographic Education and the Association of American Geographers created the "5 Themes of Geography" as a framework for teaching geography in the classroom. While these standards have been replaced with the National Geography Standards, which includes 18 standards, I find that the 5 themes of geography still provide students with an excellent introductory framework for conveying the building blocks of geography.

The Five Themes of Geography Collaborative Poster or Word Wall for your Social Studies Class

Introducing the 5 Themes of Geography:

It is important to recognize that one theme is not more important than another, and it can be taught in any order. However, I recommend teaching all of the themes in one lesson because they are all intertwined. If we break this up into smaller sections, students may leave believing one theme is more important or that each theme is separate in nature rather than viewing how they are all interconnected.

What are the 5 Themes of Geography?



Human-Environment Interactions



Notebook Reference Page:

If you are lacking materials or have an outdated textbook, you may be looking for content to provide your students about the 5 themes of geography. I've created a two-page reference sheet for students that provides helpful references and examples for each of the 5 themes of geography. You could easily read and discuss these together as a class and then have your students place the reference sheets in a notebook, or if you use composition notebooks, have your students fold the page in half and glue into the notebook.

Introduction lesson reference sheets for the 5 themes of geography

Create a Collaborative Poster Word Wall:

I like to decorate my classroom with meaningful and purposeful posters and references. I've designed a collaborative poster that can be colored by your students and added to your classroom bulletin board. This can be a great word wall reference that you can go back to as you teach. Each student colors one section of the poster to form a student-created poster. This is a great entry task activity or exit ticket.

5 themes of geography word wall collaborative poster for your social studies classroom

I've created this with the busy teacher in mind. All you need to do is print the poster pages and your students will color and cut out their own section. The sections are varied in detail so you can give each student just the right piece. The assembly is super simple to save you time. I've added three poster sizes with either 18 pieces, 24 pieces, or 36 pieces.

This can be a great team-building activity for the first few weeks of school. If your students are already familiar with the 5 themes of geography, you could use this poster as a quick review for your classroom.

Geography poster all about the five themes of geography

You can grab this ready to go activity for your classroom here:

Michelle McDonald Teacher Author and owner of Strategic Educational Services


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