1. Introduce the concept of personal space.
Sit or stand in a place that is unusually close to one of your students, without touching the student. After a minute of sitting or standing there while the class wonders what you are doing, ask the student how he or she feels about your location. Ask: Do you feel like the space around you is being “invaded,” or entered without your permission? Or, does it not matter to you? Explain to the class that everyone has personal territory, or space, in which they feel comfortable. Some people enjoy spreading out into larger territories, while others are comfortable in smaller spaces.

2. Discuss students’ territories.
Ask students to think about what their own territories might be and list them. Provide them with the following examples:

  • their desks in the classroom
  • their bedrooms at home
  • any other places where they go often and feel comfortable

Ask students to describe the territories of their pets or other animals they know. Ask: Where do these animals go often? How do they defend their territories? How do they feel if other animals or people enter their territories? Have students describe their families’ territories. Ask: Where do your family members go often? Where are your adult caregivers allowed to go that you, as kids, are not allowed to go?

3. Have students draw pictures of territories.
Have students draw pictures or maps of the territories occupied by:

  • themselves
  • their pet or another animal
  • their family members

Have students trade pictures with a partner and describe their drawings.

Extending the Learning

Draw a Venn diagram on the board and list the similarities and differences between students’ territories and those of their families. Ask: What territories do you share?

Subjects & Disciplines

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • define personal space and territory
  • describe and illustrate their territories and those of their pets and families

Teaching Approach

  • Learning-for-use

Teaching Methods

  • Discussions
  • Hands-on learning

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
  • Standard 2:  How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Crayons
  • Drawing paper

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

  • None



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