Grade/Course: 6th Grade World Cultures
Unit: Latin America
Unit Understanding: The diversity of Latin America’s geography has contributed to its
economic and cultural diversity.
Ask students to think about what it would be like to live near a
large river. Students turn and talk about what it would be like
to live near that type of geographic feature. How would it
affect the way you dressed? The type of job you might have?
The type of food you might eat?
Repeat by asking students what it would be like to live…
o near a river?
o in/near the rainforest?
o in a desert?
o in/near a large mountain range?
o near the ocean?
o in the grasslands?
Place students into six groups. Each group of students will
work together to create circle map for their physical
environment. They will brainstorm everything they know
about the environment. They will also respond/brainstorm
ways that life is affected by the region.
In the frame of reference, students will write down how they
know what they know about that environment. Each student
will also answer the following question: Would you want to
live in this environment? Why or why not?
The hook may be based upon the
universal generalization and should
be something that all students can
answer with prior knowledge.
Universal Generalization:
Where people live affects
how they live.
(Groups will use the circle map again to extend their thinking in
the line portion of the lesson.)
Students explore lesson content and
create graphically organized notes
that allow them to learn the unit
Students work with a partner from their group to complete the
“Activity Atlas” assignment. Students use various maps to
locate important geographic features of Latin America
Students go deeper with their learning about the various physical
environment of Latin America by completing a Tree Map for
Factors Affecting How Economic Activities in Latin America are
Distributed. The teacher will model and guide students through
setting up the Tree Map and locating information from the
informational text (attached). The students may work with their
partner or gather back together with their original group. Frame
of Reference: How do you think the diversity of Latin America’s
geography has contributed to its cultural and economic diversity?
Students return to the circle map from the “hook” activity.
Students will be given an example of their specific
Independent practice activities that
allow students to extend their new,
deeper understanding of the unit
(Processing Activity)
environment from Latin America and then students work
together to add information to the circle map about their
environment based on new learning from the tree map. New
information should be written with a different colored
pen/marker. Groups should include information about the
latitude, elevation, precipitation, landforms and precipitation
of the environment to the circle map.
Students will respond to a new question in the frame of
reference. Groups will answer the following question: What
impact does this environment have on how people live and
make a living?
Allow groups of students to present the information they
gathered in the circle maps to other groups so that everyone
has an idea of the diversity of Latin America. Post circle maps
around the room for students to use as a reference for sinker
Post circle maps around the room or in the hallway for students
to reference.
Students will choose one image (attached) depicting people
around Latin America in a variety of geographic locations and
activities. Students will write about where the photograph was
possibly taken and provide evidence using the circle maps to
support their conclusions.
The teacher may choose to have the students respond using the
RAFT strategy.
Role: a person living in this area of Latin America
Audience: (teacher)
Format: descriptive narrative
Topic: what it is like to live and work in this type of environment
Example of Circle Map
Would you want to live in this type of environment? Why or why not?
Images for student groups to use with the
circle map activities (hook and last portion
of line activity).
Factors Affecting How Economic Activities in Latin America are Distributed
increase in
decrease in
example: 1000 ft.
= 3.6 degree F
includes all forms
of water
precipitation keeps
land fertile for
examples: rain,
sleet, snow
lack of precipitation
can be found in the
a lot of precipitation
in the tropical areas
an area of the
Earth’s surface
with a definite
people tend to
settle on flat fertile
fewer people live
in/near mountains
Bodies of Water
water’s necessary
for humans to live
Natural Resources
Variety of
resources in Latin
north or south of
most cities located
near water
minerals such as
silver, gold, copper
and coal
trees that provide
lumber and paper
mountains, hills,
plains, desserts
Latin America
example: Andes
water provides
food such as fish
farming including
bananas, sugar cane
and coffee
fishing along coast
biggest effect on
Latin America is
working to diversify
and not depend on
one or two resources
much of economy
dependent on
warm summers,
cool winters
EXAMPLE and KEY for teacher use. Not
necessary to copy. Student groups/partners
can create their own tree map once teacher
gives the categories listed above.
water can be used
for transportation
water provides
power for
Latin America
example: the
Amazon River
poles= very
indirect rays= cold
high-latitude: cold
low-latitude: warm
How do you think the diversity of Latin America’s geography has contributed to its economic diversity?
Each student should have a copy of the following text.
Latin America
A cultural region is based on human characteristics. They are areas in which
people share common cultural characteristics- such as religious beliefs, customs, and
art forms. Often cultural regions correspond to physical regions. For example, the
Middle East might be viewed as a physical region. This region has a warm, dry climate
with many deserts and mountain areas. The Middle East also has several fertile river
valleys and mild coastal areas. Besides being a physical region, the Middle East is also
a cultural region. A large number of people in the Middle East have a common history
and heritage. Most people are Muslims and most speak Arabic.
Latin America is another example of a cultural region. The name “Latin America”
is applied to the Americas south of the United States. This large cultural region
consists of four main areas- Mexico, Central America, the West Indies (Caribbean),
and South America.
This region is called “Latin America” because the area was once colonized by
Spain and Portugal, whose languages come from Latin. Many Latin Americans are of
mixed Native American Indian, African, and European descent. Most speak Spanish or
Portuguese, and the majority follow the Catholic religion.
The physical environments of Latin America range from the Atacama Desert of
Chile where years pass without measurable precipitation, to the dense Amazonian rain
forest and from snow capped volcanoes of the Andes Mountain Range to hot vast
subtropical grasslands. Latin America’s climate exhibits great variety, from the driest
desert in the world to the world's largest tropical rain forest. It also includes tropical, as
well as, subtropical areas. "Tropical" means that the location is between the Tropic of
Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. A majority of South America lies in the tropics and
a small part of Southern America lies in the subtropics (outside the tropics). Specific
areas display distinct climates, soils, crops, domestic animals and modes of life.
Latin America: Where Do People Live?
South America has been called the "hollow continent". Use this map to discuss
possible reasons why.
Economic Activities
There are many ways in which people are affected by their physical environment
including the economic activities they participate in. Economic activities are the things
people do to meet their needs, such as farming, fishing, keeping livestock, mining and
manufacturing. Many geographic factors affect how economic activities are distributed
within a region including landforms, bodies of water, location of resources, elevation,
latitude and precipitation.
A landform is an area of the Earth’s surface with a definite shape such as
mountains, hills, plains, desserts or valleys. People tend to settle on land that is flat
and fertile where they can build their homes and grow crops more easily such as in a
valley or on a plain. Fewer people live in mountains or in the dessert.
Bodies of Water
Water is necessary for humans to live. Just as in the past, most cities are located
near a major body of water such as rivers, lakes and seas. Rivers serve as
transportation corridors in places where it is hard to build roads. This fish that swim the
waters of Latin America provide food, and rushing water from large rivers provides
power for electricity.
The Amazon River is the second longest river in the world flowing 4,000 miles
from Peru across Brazil into the Atlantic Ocean. It carries more water than any other
river in the world and contains about 20% of all the fresh river water on Earth.
Fish, petroleum, water, silver, and forests are all natural resources of Latin
America and are as varied as its physical features. For example, Mexico has huge
amounts of minerals, oil and natural gas. Some of the minerals include silver, gold,
copper, coal and iron ore. Trees, which cover approximately a quarter of Mexico’s land,
are also a large resource for this country since the wood can be used for lumber and
paper products. The rich soil of many countries in Latin America, along with the
climate, make it good for farming including coffee, cotton, sugar cane and bananas.
Also, since much of Latin America is near the coast, fishing is another resource that
supports the economy.
Although there are a multitude of resources throughout this region, depending
too heavily on one resource can lead to problems. If a country depends solely on one
or two crops and the price of the crop goes down, less money comes into the country.
As a result, workers’ wages may drop and some workers may lose their jobs. It is also
risky to depend on oil because oil prices frequently increase and decrease which
impacts the income for workers and companies. Therefore, Latin America continues to
diversify, or add variety, to their economy so there are multiple avenues for revenue.
Weather is affected by latitude elevation, ocean currents and mountain barriers.
Elevation is the height of land above sea level. Temperatures near the equator can
vary with elevation and elevation is a key factor in the climate of mountainous Latin
America. The higher the elevation, the colder the temperature. Suppose it is 80F at
sea level. Continue up to 6,000 feet and the temperature may now be only about 60F.
Above 10,000 feet, the temperature may remain below freezing- too cold for people to
live permanently.
Latitudes are imaginary lines that circle the Earth and are parallel to the equator
which is the most important latitude line and stretches around the middle of the Earth.
Latitude lines show how far north or south a location is by using degrees from the
equator. An “N” or “S” is added after the number of degrees to show if the line is north
or south of the equator. Along sea level, the weather along the equator (0 degrees
latitude) is usually hot. Higher latitudes experience seasonal changes. When it is winter
north of the equator, it is summer south of the equator due to the tilt of the Earth as it
revolves around the sun.
 High-Latitude Climates: The North and South Poles have similar “polar
climates with very cold winter temperatures.
 Mid-Latitude Climates: Places in the middle latitudes with low elevations
generally have warm summers and cool winters. These are also known as
“moist mid-latitude climates,” with either mild or cold winters, or as
“temperate climates.”
 Low-Latitude Climates: Central Africa, Central America, Northern South
America, South Asia and Southeast Asia have warm and humid climates.
These are sometimes called “tropical moist climates.” North Africa, the
Middle East, Western Australia, and Asia have warm and dry climates. In
these areas, the evaporation of water can be greater than precipitation.
Precipitation includes all of the forms of water such as rain, sleet, and snow that
fall to the ground from the atmosphere.
Jarrett, Mark, Stuart Zimmer, and James Killoran. Mastering the TEKS in World Geography. New
York: Jarrett, 2010. Print.
Prentice Hall World Explorer: People, Places and Cultures. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall,
2003. Print.
Only one copy of the following images is needed. Each group that created a circle map will be
given the corresponding image/map for that particular environment when they return to the
circle map to add additional information about that environment in Latin America.
Amazon River
Amazon Rainforest
Andes Mountains
Atacama Desert
Pacific Ocean
The Pampas
Each student should have a copy of the LA
Physical Features and Problem Solving
for the line portion of the lesson.
Latin America Physical Features
Read each question carefully. Using the clues - locate the name of a country or a physical feature in Latin
America. Label the country/feature on your map.
These two countries in South America are the largest according to land area.
The body of water located north of South America and east of Central America.
This country shares its northern border with the United States.
The largest river in South America and second longest in the world.
A series of mountains located on the west coast of South America.
Southernmost country in Central America.
Describes the majority of Latin America's natural vegetation.
The largest number of volcanoes in Latin America are located in this country.
The second largest ocean in the world is located east of Latin America.
The equator runs through these three South American countries.
Locate Latin America's Physical Features:
Your favorite aunt has once again taken off on an adventure. This time, she is traveling around
Latin America by ship. Occasionally, she takes time to write you a post card. Each contains
a clue about her location. Use the map in your textbook on page 165 (Latin America: Natural
Vegetation) and the map on page 164 (Latin America: Physical) from the Activity Atlas
section to answer her questions.
to answer her questions.
Our ship is on the south side of the island of Hispaniola. A dense rain forest covers the island's
mountain slope. Which way will we sail to reach the Panama Canal?
We are sailing south past one of the Earth's driest deserts. It is in a long, skinny South American
country that extends north and south along the continent's west coast. Where are we?
From the Falkland Islands, we traveled north and sailed past desert scrub for days. Finally,
we saw tropical rain forest along the coast. What two major cities will we come to next?
Latin America Physical Features (KEY)
Argentina and Brazil
Carribean Sea
Amazon River
Andes Mountains
Tropical Rain Forest
Atlantic Ocean
Ecuador, Columbia and Brazil