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Vermilion Parish Schools
Activity 1: Defining Characteristics of a Civilization (GLEs: 17, 28)

Ask students whether they would consider the hunter-gatherer societies studied in Unit 1 as “civilizations”.  Why or why not?  How about the early small farming communities like Çatal Hüyük or Skara Brae?  Would they consider them “civilizations”?  Have students explain their answers.  What would they consider, then, to be the major characteristics of a “civilization”?  (e.g. has an organized political or governmental structure; has an economy with distinct, diverse jobs; has laws that govern social and economic relations; has urban or very populated areas; often has organized religion; usually has distinct art, architecture, and culture)

Ask students how they think the first cities developed.   Why did cities develop?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in a city?  Tell students that they are about to study the world’s first large civilizations.  Tell them that, as humans made advances in farming, they could produce more food and feed more people.  Small villages grew into towns which grew into cities.  Remind them about where the earliest farming communities tended to develop.  Tell them that in order to understand civilizations, they must first study and analyze the geographical features that shaped the civilizations themselves



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6th Grade Social Studies

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