1. Discuss threats to personal territories.
Ask students to describe what happens when someone enters their territory. Ask: Do you react differently depending on who comes into your territory? What if it’s a friend or a pet? What if it’s a stranger or someone you don’t like?

2. Have students discuss how they might react to specific scenarios.
Read the following scenarios to the class, and have students describe how they would react to each one. Emphasize that these are all scenarios in which someone enters their personal space or territory. Discourage students from sharing personal experiences; the purpose of this activity is to prompt them to think about conflict and conflict resolution.

  • You are waiting in line for a movie, and someone pushes you.
  • You are not getting along well with your sister or brother, but you share a bedroom.
  • You are at home, and someone you don't know opens the door and walks in uninvited.
  • You are playing with a friend, and he or she grabs one of your toys to play with.
  • Your little brother is afraid of thunder and wants to sleep in your bed.
  • You get to school late one day, and a classmate is sitting at your desk.


3. Have students brainstorm ways to resolve conflict.
Explain that although students may feel angry when someone invades their personal space or territory, it is almost always better not to let a fight happen. Ask: What could you do instead of fighting? Ask students to brainstorm ways to resolve conflict over territory. Offer these strategies to get the discussion going:

  • If you are angry, wait until you are calm enough to explain why you are angry.
  • Talk about the problem calmly and listen to the other person’s ideas.
  • Talk to an adult that you trust and who can help you resolve the problem.

Informal Assessment

Ask students to think of a time when they have felt that their personal space or territory was threatened. Have them draw pictures showing what happened and how they reacted.

Extending the Learning

Tell students that countries have their own territories. Ask: What do you think would happen if another country tried to take territory from the United States? What might our leaders do? Listen to students’ responses. Then ask: How might other countries feel if the United States tried to take their territories? Make sure students understand that countries may go to war over territories.

Subjects & Disciplines

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • describe threats to territories and their reactions
  • describe ways to resolve conflict over territory

Teaching Approach

  • Learning-for-use

Teaching Methods

  • Brainstorming
  • Discussions

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

National Council for Social Studies Curriculum Standards

  • Theme 4:  Individual Development and Identity

National Geography Standards

  • Standard 13:  How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of Earth's surface

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Crayons
  • Paper
  • Pencils

Physical Space

  • Classroom


  • Large-group instruction

Background Information

Everyone has personal territory, or space, that he or she is comfortable in. Understanding personal territory helps you to understand the reasons for conflicts over territory.

Prior Knowledge

  • personal space and territory



a disagreement or fight, usually over ideas or procedures.


land an animal, human, or government protects from intruders.