2. Group work to focus on settlements

People have traditionally settled in places where they can find natural resources such as water, fuel and access to food, perhaps land to grow crops or keep cattle or fish from the sea or a lake.

To help your pupils understand why people choose certain places to settle, you will use a historical example to explore the issues of water. You can then relate the key ideas to their own lives.

Using group work will increase the interaction and exchange of ideas, which will help pupils explore their thinking and develop their understanding more.

Case Study 2: Looking at the relationship between resources and early settlements

Mrs Mweene was teaching her Grade 6 pupils about the relationship between natural resources and human settlements. She decided to use an example from Ancient Egypt.

She prepared some notes about life in Ancient Egypt and wrote these on the board. (See Resource 1: Natural resources and human settlement.) She asked the pupils in pairs to identify the major natural resource that exists in Egypt and to discuss why Ancient Egyptians settled in various places. They were able to identify the importance of the River Nile, and water as the natural resource in determining the settlement of people in the country.

Next, she asked her pupils to work in groups of eight and share with each other how important water is to the survival of their own village. She asked them to identify where the village gets its water from, and how this affects both the position of the village and the daily lives of the people. The groups shared their findings with the rest of the class, and Mrs Mweene wrote their ideas on the chalkboard. They discussed how important each idea was.

Mrs Mweene was very pleased with her pupils’ informed discussion – this meant that they understood the relationship between natural resources and human settlement.

Activity 2: Linking resources and settlement

Divide the class into groups and ask each group to think about the needs of early settlers (e.g. food, water, shelter). Ask one person in each group to list the ideas.

Ask each group to think what would be the best place for a settlement e.g. near a river, but away from flooding.

Ask each group to present its findings to the rest of the class and identify the common factors together.

Next, ask each group to think about and note down activities that might have been carried out by people in these settlements.

Now ask each group to design their own village. Give each group a large blank piece of paper. Ask them to mark these features on the paper:

  • a river;
  • houses;
  • an area of high ground;
  • a road or track.

Encourage them to use symbols on their maps and to include as many other features as they want.

Allow time at the end of the lesson for groups to present their village maps to each other and explain where the people in the village get their resources from.

1. Organising a brainstorming session

3. Thinking about resources and the environment