First Grade Social Studies Lesson Plan: How People Adapt to Environments

First Grade Social Studies Lesson Plan: How People Adapt to Environments
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Strand Four, Geography:

Identify ways humans adapt to their environment (e.g. clothing, housing, crops)


  • Globe
  • Map of the United States
  • Books:
  • Homes in Many Cultures by Heather Adamson
  • Clothes in Many Cultures by Heather Adamson or What We Wear by Maja Ajmera
  • Farms Around the World by Catherine Veitch
  • Printable Worksheets: Clothing, House

Procedure Day One

Gather your students around you and ask, “What do you think people need to live?” Steer students away from answers like video games and television. The answers you are seeking are air, water, food, clothing and shelter.

Say, “Things such as food, shelter and clothing can be different depending on where you live. People adapt to where they live. If you live in a cold place, you might need a coat to adapt or be comfortable. If you live by the ocean, you may be able to catch fish for your food. Today we are going to talk about shelters or homes.”

Say, “Why do we need shelter?” To keep us safe and protect us from sun, wind rain, snow, animals, etc.

Say, “We are going to read a book that shows us that shelters can be very different in other parts of the world. Even in the United States, homes can vary depending on where they are. In California, homes are built to protect against earthquakes. In some places, air conditioning is not needed but in others, it is necessary. In colder climates, extra insulation and heavier windows are used to kept homes warm. We will see that the kinds of homes people live in depend on where they live.” Use a globe to point to different places as you read.


Choose one of the dwellings that you learned about in the book. Draw a picture of that home and then draw a picture of your home. Use the worksheet provided.

Procedure Day Two

Say, “Look at your friends to see what they are wearing. Most of you have similar clothing. Why are we wearing this type of clothing? If the season changes, will we wear clothing that is a little bit different? There are places in the United States where shorts and t-shirts can be worn for most of the year. In other parts of the country, you may need to wear mittens, boots and warm coats during part of the year. Why? There are also times when we wear fancier clothes than what we wear to school. ”

Using the globe say, “Do you think that children wear the same kinds of clothing all over the world? Do you think they wear special clothes to celebrate? We are going to read a book to find out.”

Read and discuss one of the books that you have chosen. Point out locations with the globe.


Use the worksheet to draw and color clothes that you wear and clothes from a country of your choice.

Procedure Day Three

Say, “Do you remember what people need to live? (Air, water, food, clothing and shelter.) Food is necessary to keep us alive. We buy food at the grocery store, but where do they get the food? Do any of you have gardens? That could be one place that you get food.”

Say, “Can we grow all kinds of food everywhere in the world? Why not? The weather has to be just right to grow good food. Farmers have to adapt to grow the right kinds of food in the area where they live. Some weather is good for growing corn. Other areas are good for growing apples. So the grocery store has to get food from many different places.”

Say, “We are going to read a book to find out more.” Read the book Farms Around the World.

Homework Activity

Bring a food (or picture of it) from home that can be grown in the state where you live.


  • Adamson, Heather. Homes in Many Cultures. Capstone Press, 2009.
  • Ajmera, Maya. What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World. Charlesbridge, 2012.
  • Veitch, Catherine. Farms Around the World. Heinemann, 2011.
  • Adamson, Heather. Clothes in Many Cultures. Capstone Press, 2009.