KS3 Active Learning Ideas for Geography

Active Learning Ideas for Geography

To illustrate how you can use some of the key elements and skills and capabilities in Key Stage 3 Geography lessons, see the information below

Hot Seating

A pupil, teacher or guest speaker sits on the hot seat and answers questions from the class.

Examples for lessons:

  • Migration topic: refugee
  • Ecosystems topic: Kayapo tribe member

Post-it Brainstorm

Ask your pupils to write key words or ideas on Post-its in response to a given topic or question. Then, ask them to place these on the board or wall. Encourage your pupils to read them and sort them into groups with common themes.

Examples for lessons:

  • Globalisation
  • Climate change
  • Coastal protection

Mind Maps

Pupils can use these to record ideas in a free flowing way, using key words, images, symbols and colours and making links between a wide range of related ideas.

Examples for lessons:

  • Why people live near volcanoes
  • Choosing the best site for a new shopping centre

Think, Pair, Share

Give your pupils a question or problem to think about individually. Ask them to form pairs to compare ideas and agree an answer that they can share with the class.

Examples for lessons:

  • Where will we build coastal protection on a stretch of coast?
  • How many is too many? (population)

Consequence Wheel

Ask your pupils to decide on an issue to explore. Draw a circle and then write the issue in the centre. Then, ask your class to think of as many direct consequences as possible. Encourage them to sort the consequences into short term or long term, colour coding them as positive or negative. As an alternative, give each pupil a consequence and ask them to place themselves in the consequence line.

Examples for lessons:

  • Extreme weather case study
  • Earthquake in California

Hot Air Balloon

Give each pupil a picture of a hot air balloon. Then, ask them a series of questions about an issue. Who needs to be in the balloon? What needs to be in place for the project to be successful? What is holding it back? What will make it fly at great speed? What might blow the balloon off course?

Examples for lessons:

  • Development of an out of town shopping complex

Using photographs

Use photos to explain a point.
Give the photos captions. Explain why you used that caption.
Create collages.
Layers of influence: ask your pupils to answer different questions about the photo. What is the issue? Who is involved? Who is excluded? How do the people feel? What actions are needed?

Examples for lessons:

  • Aftermath of an earthquake
  • Migrants fleeing war


Give individual pupils a role or character and ask them to demonstrate, without speaking, an action or actions that represent that role or character. Ask the rest of the class to guess the role or character.

Examples for lessons:

  • Primary, secondary or tertiary jobs
  • Tourism jobs

5 Ways

To encourage deeper and more critical thinking, ask your pupils Why? about an issue they are studying. Do this at least five times to encourage them to think more deeply about the issue and their responses to the question. This process encourages them to unpack complex issues and get to the root of the issue.

Examples for lessons:

  • Migration
  • Development gap

Role Play

Give each pupil a character or role relating to a simple scenario. Ask them to think about what their character would do, feel and think in a given situation. After five minutes preparation, ask your pupils to act out the scenario for the rest of the class. This can be a group or individual activity.

Examples for lessons:

  • Cutting down the rainforest
  • Building a new coastal golf resort

Each one teach one

Write key ideas or facts about a topic on individual cards. Give each pupil a card and ask them to teach the fact to their partner or group. Encourage them to use illustrations and mimes. Question the group to see how effectively they have learned the facts.

Examples for lessons:

  • Types of rainfall
  • Plate tectonics

Areas of Learning