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Sense of Place: Geography #5: Geography Review, A Holiday Getaway

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Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students use what they have learned about atlases, geography, and travel writing to create an imaginary holiday itinerary.  Using places nominated by their classmates, they will build some crazy and exciting holiday plans!  This is the final lesson in the unit and should be a celebration of learning while assessing the students’ abilities to use an atlas, recognize features of an area, and promote those features to a reader or audience.

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:

4 and above


Working independently and using what they have learned in this unit about geography, students will plan a journey that takes them from a beginning point to three different destinations and back home again.  (AASL 2.3.1, “Connect learning to the real world.”)

Suggested Time:

50-55 minutes

Success Criteria:

Using destination suggestions from their classmates, students will work independently to create an imaginary holiday itinerary, including recommended sites to visit.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Remind the students that in this unit they have learned to use an atlas, have looked at some of the most stunning sites on the planet (Beautiful World Game), have created an accordion travel book (“Panorama Pops”), and have written a brochure to promote the school.  Explain that today, they will use all their skills – atlas skills, writing, and destination promotion – to tie the unit together.  Today, they will plan an imaginary holiday!

2. Main:

To begin, each student needs three pieces of scrap paper and a pencil.  Ask them to use an atlas, if needed, and to write the following on each of the pieces of paper:

Scrap Paper #1:  Name of their country’s capital city.  (Example: Moscow, Russia)

Scrap Paper #2:  Name of another national capital city on the same continent.  (Example: Lisbon, Portugal – Russia and Portugal are on the same continent.)

Scrap Paper #3:  Name of a capital city on a different continent.  (Ex:  Suva, Fiji, which is in the continent of Australia/Oceania.)

Have each student fold all slips of paper in half and deposit them in the jar/hat/basket.  Toss the papers well.

Pass out the student assignment sheets (see attached).  After the students write their names and the date, have them write the city in which your school is located as the starting point for their imaginary journeys.  My students would write, “Dubai, United Arab Emirates.”  Make sure that they have a city and country, or, where appropriate, city, state, and country.

Next, have each child draw one slip of paper out of the hat.  They should write the name of that place under “Destination #1, Place.”  After everyone has drawn one place, have them draw their second and third destinations and write those on their assignment as well.  Their itineraries are now set.

To complete the assignment, the student needs to write a few words about the location.  For example, if the student draws “Stockholm, Sweden”, they could write, “the capital city of Sweden, a country in northern Europe”.  Another possible response could be, “A country in northern Europe bordering Norway, Finland, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea”.  Make sure that they mention the continent, region, or proximity of neighboring countries or bodies of water.  Basically, they need to use the atlas to provide a geographic description.

Under “Sites to Visit”, ask the student to list two places visitors might be drawn to.  They should get this information by talking to their classmates, using the atlas, using World Book’s Compare Places tool (or whatever digital resources your school subscribes to).  They could also use country books or travel books.  For example, if a student is working on Ireland, he could mention the Cliffs of Moher or Blarney Castle.  This is not a big research effort – the kids only need to find two attractions or sites for each of the locations.

For “Notes”, ask the students to write a few words about the way they would recommend traveling from site to site.  If the sites are very far apart, aircraft might be necessary.  However, a few of them might have different ideas.  Would they sail, hike, take a train or a hot air balloon?  How about a submarine?  How many ways can they think of to get from destination to destination?

3. Conclusion:

Ask the children if any of them would like to share their imaginary holiday journeys.  They will likely be excited to tell about where they are headed and what they plan to see.  Collect the work and submit it to the teacher for the student’s portfolio.

  1. Small slips of scrap paper for nominating three destinations.
  2. Hat, jar, or basket to collect all the nominations.  (Each student will contribute three destination ideas.)
  3. Student Assignment Sheet (see attached.)
  4. Pencils, colored pencils.

This lesson is designed to be a summative experience for the unit.  If you wish, film the students presenting or telling about their travel itineraries.  This would make a great addition to a digital portfolio.  If you do not have the option of a digital portfolio, place the student assignment from today’s lesson in a paper portfolio of work.

The lesson can easily be adapted for destinations within one country or destinations within one state or region.  I’ve purposely omitted the words “Country” or “State” so that you can simply tailor the lesson to the geography that works best for your students.

Recommended books for this lesson: 

A collection of atlases, preferably National Geographic Kids’ Atlas.

Key Terms:

Travel Journalism, Holidays, Vacations, Sight Seeing, Travel, Geography


Student Handout, A Holiday Getaway