Illustration 3: Places are for living in

Curriculum overview

The Australian Curriculum: Geography and (its various HASS-based iterations) content descriptions addressed in the illustration are:

  • The factors that influence the decisions people make about where to live and their perceptions of the liveability of places
  • The influence of environmental quality on the liveability of place

Learning goals

In this illustration students examine a variety of settlements from around the world and consider the reasons for their location, function and liveability.

The illustration-specific learning goals are:

  • observing a variety of settlements from rural and urban locations
  • describing a variety of settlements, housing types and settlement patterns
  • examining the possible reasons for their location
  • considering the size and extent of the places
  • identifying the features and functions of particular settlements
  • analysing the factors that make places liveable
  • developing skills in using Google Earth to locate places and features
  • identifying features of their own settlement and describing its liveability features.

Geographical understanding and context

Settlements around the world evolve as a consequence of locational factors such as travel distance, transport routes, water sources, fertile land, specialised functions and the social nature of people.

The focus of this illustration is an examination of the factors that have led to both the growth and decline of places where people live around the world. Students also have the opportunity to use and develop some ICT skills using Google Earth. The concept of liveability is considered, and its influence on the way in which people feel about a place is examined.

Teaching approaches

The key stimulus for this activity is a photograph library showing 56 photographic images of cities, villages and towns which illustrates a range of settlement locations, types, forms and functions.

  • Preparation

Use the document Images of cities, villages and towns (PDF) to create a series of flash cards that can be used to stimulate whole-class or small-group discussion and activities.
You may also want to familiarise yourself with Google Earth's Cities, villages and towns (KMZ) prior to introducing the extension activity.

  • Activities

The activities to be undertaken are provided in the document Where people live (PDF).
Using the cards made from Images of cities, villages and towns (PDF), students consider a range of questions that highlight the location, physical environment, built environment, possible reasons for settlement and the dominant functions of certain places. They could also speculate on the reasons for growth and decline of these locations.
This activity could be expanded to include local area studies of their own place, or cities, villages and towns in their own state.

  • Extension activity

As an extension activity you have been provided with a Google Earth file Cities, villages and towns (KMZ) which has a place-mark for each of the 56 images you used in the previous task.

The purpose of this file is to direct students' attention to a more extensive look at the environment and characteristics of the selected places. They can be viewed as vertical aerial photographs or from a variety of angles, elevations or 3D views using Google Earth.

It is also suggested that where Street View is available some ground view interpretation be undertaken.

You are provided with several extension questions in the file Where people live. Students could input some of the features about the locations into Google Maps and develop a greater understanding of the places. They could also use the 'Get info' feature to add information to the text boxes about the places or at least interpret the locational data.

As a class discussion or in small groups, ask students to give their opinions about what makes a place liveable. They could extend this to why they live where they do.

What you need

Images of cities, villages and towns (PDF) is a library of 56 photographic images of cities, villages and towns from around the world. Flash cards can be created from these images.

Where people live (PDF) provides a suggested inquiry approach with a series of activities and questions.

Cities villages and towns is a Google Earth KMZ file containing place-marks of all the 56 locations in the photograph library above.

Curriculum connections

This illustration links with the content descriptions of the following Phase 1 Australian Curriculum.


  • Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations, selecting and sequencing appropriate content and multimodal elements to promote a point of view or enable a new way of seeing
  • Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, selecting aspects of subject matter and particular language, visual, and audio features to convey information and ideas


  • Given coordinates, plot points on the Cartesian plane, and find coordinates for a given point
  • Identify and investigate issues involving numerical data collected from primary and secondary sources


  • Science understanding influences the development of practices in areas of human activity such as industry, agriculture and marine and terrestrial resource management


  • The physical features of ancient Greece (such as its mountainous landscape) and how they influenced the civilisation that developed there
  • The physical features of ancient Rome (such as the River Tiber) and how they influenced the civilisation that developed there
  • The physical features of India (such as fertile river plains) and how they influenced the civilisation that developed there
  • The physical features of China (such as the Yellow River) and how they influenced the civilisation that developed there