Social Studies – Grade 5 Close this window
  What's this?

Where to Put the People?

Identify the best location for a new community in an assigned region.

Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

Students learn how factors, such as transportation, natural resources, geography and climate, affect communities by determining the best location for a new community within an assigned region.

Consider the location of your local community
Ask students to consider the location of their own community and speculate why it is located where it is. Record their initial ideas on the board under the heading Factors Affecting the Location of Communities. If available, show photographs that clearly indicate the surrounding physical geography, such as the community' s proximity to arable land and water sources. (You may use another community if it is more suitable for this activity.) Ask the class again why towns or cities are located where they are. Add new factors to the list.

Examine the location of other communities
Display a variety of Alberta maps, such as historical/political, relief, climate and contour maps. You may want to use online maps such as those found at Travel Alberta (see References). Discuss the location of other communities in Alberta. Explain that many communities are established in First Nations settlement or gathering/trading areas, fur trade posts or early Francophone settlements. Point out the impact of natural resources and waterways on the choice of community locations. In addition, compare the locations of northern and southern communities.

Point out the similarities and differences in the following features:

  • landforms or other geographical features
  • transportation routes
  • natural resources
  • proximity to bodies of water and arable land
  • climate
  • latitude and its influence on climate
  • elevation and its relationship to climate
  • rainfall.

For a third time, ask students to consider why towns or communities are located where they are. Add new information to the list.

To meet diverse learning needs, you may want to define terms as they arise in the discussion. You may also want to create a word wall (chart of new words) to reinforce terms such as arable, elevation and latitude.

Introduction to concept: Planned communities
Introduce the idea that some communities are deliberately planned and built in a scheduled fashion. Cite the example of Edmonton and present information on the city's development, including aerial photographs and factual information (see References). Provide students with general facts on climate, type of natural resources, geographical features and forms of transportation. Offer students other examples of planned communities, such as Leaside, Ontario; Whistler, British Columbia; Crowsnest Pass, Alberta; and Grande Cache, Alberta.

Develop criteria for well-situated communities
Invite the class to consider whether or not Edmonton or some other planned community is well located. Develop criteria for a well-situated community with the class, such as:

  • favourable climate: latitude, elevation, proximity to water, rain shadow
  • proximity to abundant natural resources
  • geographical beauty/interest
  • ease of transportation.

Invite students to discuss their answers with partners before sharing their ideas with the class.

Research and rate possible sites for a new community
Form small groups and assign each group a geographical region. Ask students to adopt the roles of community planners who must find locations for three or four new communities. Encourage students to consider the criteria for a well-situated community when they select locations. Direct students to use online and print resources, including textbooks and atlases, to locate information about possible sites. Invite each group to think of names for the proposed communities. Provide groups with a data chart such as the one below.

You may want to adapt the materials in Rating Options (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.

Here is a sample chart for Edmonton.

Rating Communities 





criterion is not present

criterion is present to some extent

criterion is mostly present

criterion is completely present



Favourable climate

Evidence: northern continental climate with temperature variance from -40°C to +40°C; low precipitation levels

Close proximity to natural resources

Evidence: large oil and gas reserves, forestry, Elk Island National Park

Geographical beauty/interest

Evidence: many city parks (river valley, Hawrelak Park), historical parks (Fort Edmonton), waterways (North Saskatchewan River), varied recreational venues, beautification projects (Communities in Bloom)

Easily accessed

Evidence: flat land makes it easy to build roads and railways; access to a river

After groups have finished their research, ask them to trace the main transportation routes, such as highways and railways, in their region on a large wall map of Canada.

Ranking the locations
Invite the community planners to present their recommendations to the rest of the class. The group (or class) should rank each location in light of the criterion for a well-situated community and determine which proposed community is best situated. When students have determined the best location within their assigned region, each group records the selected community on a wall map.
Finally, ask students to choose the best-situated proposed community overall.

You may want to adapt the materials in Ranking Options (Support Material) to structure and assess this assignment.

Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
Copyright | Feedback
Back to top