Subject: Social Studies

Lesson Length: 55 - 60 mins

Topic: Human-Environment Interaction

Grade Level: 6

Standards / Framework:


Brief Description: Students will explore the interaction inhabitants of river valley civilizations had with their surrounding environments and how they adapted and innovated to meet their needs.

Know Before You Start:

  • Students should be familiar with the location of the early river valley civilizations (China, Indus Valley, Mesopotamia, and Egypt). 

  • The following vocabulary may be helpful: irrigation, terrace farming, environment, adapt, domesticate, innovate, modify.


  • Ask students to brainstorm all the ways we use water today. Prompt with questions such as “who uses water?”, “why is it important?”, “what is made with water?”. 

  • Read and discuss the sample comic, focusing on the development of early civilizations near water sources.


  • Have students choose one of the four river valley civilizations (Indus Valley, Ancient China, Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt). 

  • Using the sample comic as a guide, have students create a one-to-three- panel comic illustrating how water was important to the chosen civilization and how the inhabitants interacted with the water in their environment. Describe the innovation that came from this interaction (e.g., terrace farming, irrigation).


  • Discuss the different innovations that resulted from early civilizations interacting with their environments to meet their needs. 

  • Discuss how civilizations still use these innovations today.


  • Assign students one of the civilizations.

  • Specify the number of panels and content on each.

  • This activity can be done in groups, pairs, or independently.


  • Comic to print or display:  Comic.

Suggested Content Packs:

Suggested Story Starters: