Ancient Civilizations – River Valley Civilizations

Contributor: Victoria Surface. Lesson ID: 10279

How would you choose a place to live and work? What environmental factors matter? Has your family moved? Using videos, interactives and graphic organizers, learn why rivers mattered to early settlers!



learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Have you ever moved to a new location? How did your family decide where to go? How do people choose a place to live and work? Does the environment play a part in the decision? In this lesson, you will learn how ancient river valley civilizations developed. You will use videos, online resources and activities, interactive maps, and graphic organizers to explore the civilizations.

Ancient civilizations developed around rivers. With the possibility of rivers flooding, why would people choose to live near rivers?

We are exploring why ancient civilizations developed in river valleys, and how geography, climate, and natural resources impact the way people live and work today.

1. As you research and explore the reasons civilizations developed around river valleys, use the Graphic Organizer - Cluster Graph found under Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar to organize your thoughts. The topic can be something like "Ancient Civilization River Valleys." Use the resources in #2 of this section to assist you in your research.

Think about the following questions as you take notes:

  • What was the name of the ancient civilization?
  • In what present-day area was it located?
  • What rivers were located near the civilization?
  • What impact did the rivers have on the civilization?
  • How did the rivers help or harm the people of the civilization?
  • What were the benefits and drawbacks of the civilization’s location?

2. Use the following resources to learn about the river valley civilizations:

Watch Rivers’ Impact on Early Civilization by (You may have to create a temporary free account to view it).

Read Ancient Civilizations from Explore the following topics:

  • Ancient Egypt - Life in the Nile
  • The Early Middle East - Life in Sumer
  • South Asia: India and Beyond - Early Civilization in the Indus Valley
  • China - Shang Dynasty - China's First Recorded History

Continue to the Got It? section to see why people settled where they did.

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