Lesson 4: People Change the Environment

Getting Started

Questions to Explore

  • What causes change?
  • How do changes in the environment affect people?
  • How can changes be positive? How can they be negative?
  • Why must humans change the environment?

Facts and Definitions

  • Farmers change the environment when they clear land and plant crops, irrigate, and use pesticides.
  • The environment is changed when new homes and neighborhoods are built.
  • Irrigation is when farmers bring water from other sources and use it on their crops.
  • Pesticides are chemicals that are sprayed on crops to keep away bugs that could harm the crops.
  • When trees are cut down in large numbers we call it logging.
  • Coal mining is when people go beneath the earth's surface to get coal.


  • Analyze the effects of change in communities and predict future changes. (SS)
  • Analyze environmental issues, past and present, and determine their impact on different cultures. (SS)
  • Describe human movement in the settlement patterns of rural, urban, and suburban areas. (SS)
  • Identify and describe the people, vegetation, and animal life specific to certain regions and describe their interdependence. (SS)


  • Over the Hedge
  • 2 shoeboxes
  • crayons or colored pencils
  • glue or tape
  • scissors


Ask your child to describe some ways that people change the environment. Discuss that changes to the land can be either positive or negative, and some changes can have both positive and negative effects.

Explain to your child that change is always happening and things must always be changing. Ask your child what would happen if humans never changed the environment. For example, there would be no wood products, no farms, and no homes built from natural resources. Humans must change the environment in order to live, but humans put the environment in danger when changes happen too suddenly.