Six Essential Elements of Geography

By: Amy Samuels



Teacher will lead students in the facilitation of a presentation to introduce and familiarize students with the 6 Essential Elements. At the conclusion of the presentation, students will analyze a series of photographs to determine which element the photos are depicting.

Keywords: Six Essential Elements Geography


Students will analyze a series of photographs to apply their knowledge of the 6 Essential Elements.


Utilize tools geographers use to study the world. (SS.6.G.1.4)


Academic Preparation

This lesson should be used near the beginning of a course or unit on geography to help students develop an understanding of the 6 Essential Elements.
Teacher will need computer access to display the presentation as well as the pictures in the activity.


Teacher should begin the lesson by asking students what Geography is.
After defining the word as something like:
-a study of the Earth and its people
-a study of the Earth and all its variety
teacher should ask students to answer the following question.
When geographers study _________(fill in the name of the state in which the students live), what kind of things do they learn about geography?
After allowing students sufficient time to answer the question, discuss their responses in large group.
Explain to students that there are many different ways to consider geography and that geographers have actually created something called the Six Essential Elements of Geography to better help them study their field. Explain that these are six different categories that should be taken into consideration when studying the geography of a continent, country, state, etc.
In order to learn about the 6 Elements, explain to students that they will be viewing a presentation on the 6 Elements. Throughout the presentation they will take notes to aid in their understanding of what each of the Elements means.
Teacher will facilitate the display and discussion of the presentation to highlight important facts and explain the information on each slide.
At the conclusion of the presentation, explain to students that they are going to see a series of six photographs. Students will be expected to select the Element they feel is being displayed in each picture and develop a response to support their selection. Explain to students that there is more than one correct answer for each of the photographs and it is their response justification that is most important in this activity.
After each of the 6 photographs have been shown, the teacher should review the the photos. During the review, the teacher should guide the class in discussion as to which element the students selected for each photo and why.


Students will be assessed through their completion and participation in the photo analysis activity and discussion.

Estimated Lesson Duration

1hr 00min


  • Pictures for the informational presentation are taken from Microsoft Office Clip Art.
  • Information from the presentation was taken from Information taken from Glencoe, The World and Its People (2005)
  • Pictures for the photo analysis activity are taken from the following:

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