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). 


  • 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.


  • Introduce the following vocabulary:
    • irrigation
    • terrace farming
    • environment
    • adapt
    • domesticate
    • innovate
    • modify
  • 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 three-panel comic illustrating in what ways water was important to the 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.


  • Allow students to use the speech-to-text feature.
  • Allow students to use the voiceover feature to read their comics aloud.
  • Give students a fact sheet with information about each civilization.

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


  • Comic to print or display:  Comic.

Suggested Story Starters: