Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 12184

How would you describe a recent vacation destination? Was it warm or cold? Were the people warm or cold? What was the hotel room like? Places are described by human and natural features. Learn how!



learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5), Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!


How would you describe the place pictured above? What would you focus on?

Throughout this series, Themes of Geography, you will be reviewing the five themes of geography.

Before you begin learning about the second theme of geography, take a moment to review what you have already learned. Discuss the following questions with your teacher or parent:

  • What is the first theme of geography?
  • What is the difference between absolute and relative location?
  • How would you use absolute location to describe where you live?
  • How would you use relative location to describe where you live?

If you had difficulty answering any of these questions, make sure to go back and review the previous Related Lesson on location, found in the right-hand sidebar, before moving forward.

The second theme of geography is place. Place has to do with the characteristics that describe a location. Place can be described using physical characteristics and human characteristics.

Physical characteristics describe things that occur in nature. Climate, animal life, plant life, and topography all can be used to describe a place’s physical characteristics. Trees, mountains, beaches, warm weather, and a large deer population are all physical characteristics. Most physical characteristics are created naturally, but on some occasions they are man-made. For example, a lake might be man-made.

Human characteristics describe the things in a place that are created by man. You are probably thinking of things like buildings, monuments, and modes of transportation. These things are all considered human characteristics, but human characteristics can also be things like political systems, religious practices, crime rates, economic systems, and written and spoken language. These systems are also created by man.

Every place can be described using physical and human characteristics. The following is an image of New York City.

  • What are three physical and three human characteristics of the place pictured?

You may have to use some inference skills to generate human characteristics.

New York City

When you are finished describing the place, move on to the Got It? section to assess what you have learned.

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