My changing city

Resource Info

Basic Information

Geography doesn’t always have to be a study of the earth’s physical features or of countries around the globe. This activity shows how our immediate surroundings too can offer immense potential for teaching lessons in social geography. 

(All day)

 We all know that cities are growing bigger every day, at an alarming rate. Migration from rural areas and high rates of population growth are the major factors responsible for this. It would be a good exercise for your students to do some research on how certain aspects of the city have changed, and from this study go on to consider how change can be planned for. 



  1. To enable students to understand that  the study of geography can be applied locally too.
  2. To encourage the study of maps, literature, statistical information etc., to better understand the relevance of town/city planning. 
  3. To improve communication skills through discussion.
  4. To encourage group activity and report writing.
Activity Steps: 

Students will have three major questions to answer:

1. What was the city/town like at first?

To answer this, students could: 

Interview old inhabitants.

Review literature (maps, histories).

2. How has it changed?

Students would have to study one key area (say, the main business district, or an old residential area) and map the changes that have taken place every ten years.

Statistical information such as number of schools, number of hospitals, population, growth of business, etc., could be tabulated.

3. What will the city most probably look like 10 years from now? What should it look like?

This is the most challenging part of the activity. The two questions are quite different, actually. The first assumes that change will continue at the present rate, without any conscious effort to influence the pace/quality of development. The second throws the ball into the children’s court, so to say. Given the present circumstances, they will have to take into account market forces, social dynamics, political realities, etc.

Picture from


  • Divide the class into groups, maybe of four or five students each.
  • Try to put students who live in the same area, or close to each other, in the same group.
  • Each group can demarcate a particular part of the city/town and work on that, for the first two questions.
  • After they have worked on these two questions, the whole class can get together to arrive at a comprehensive picture of their city as it was and is now.
  • From here, they can go on to planning the future.
  • Each group can work on a certain area of town planning - e.g., roads, transport, education, health, communications, etc.
  • After this exercise, they can present their reports in class and discuss them.
  • Students can write their own complete reports, if time permits. Otherwise, you can limit the exercise to a classroom discussion. 


This activity first appeared in Teacher Plus, Issue No. 31, July-August 1994 and has been adapted here with changes.

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