1. Have students think about a grocery store.
Ask students to imagine a typical large-chain grocery store. Ask: What different sections are in the store? What types of things are shelved together? Tell students to think of each of the parts of the store that have fruit products as a region. Explain that geographers define the word region as an area as "having one or more common characteristics that are found throughout." Ask: How many regions would you guess your store has?
2. Distribute the worksheet.
Divide students into pairs. Have pairs use mental maps to identify the approximate regions in a local grocery store using the worksheet Regions in My Grocery Store. Ask pairs to think about the location of each item and write its name in its approximate location.
3. Have students identify patterns.
Ask: Can you find any patterns? Why do some foods appear together? Give students examples of grouped foods, such as refried beans and tortillas, or tomato sauce with canned tomatoes. Ask: Would you change your guess about how many regions your store has? Why?
4. Ask students to name the regions.
Ask pairs to brainstorm names a geographer might give each region and write them on the worksheet. Provide two examples to get them started: the frozen foods region could be Antarctica; the bread aisle could be the Wheat Belt. Encourage students to have fun with this step and to create more than one region name per aisle, when needed. Remind them of the other "regions" of a grocery store, such as where the carts are, and the check-out section.
5. Have a whole-class discussion.
- Are some regions harder to define than others? Why or why not?
- Is each region the same size? Are some more noticeable than others? Explain.
- What items might belong in more than one region?
- Are the regions placed in some sort of order? What is it?
- Would you have organized the store differently? Why?
Extending the Learning
Bring six or more common grocery-store items to class. Have students write down where each item was produced and mark those places on a blank world map. When the map is done, ask them to identify any patterns.
Subjects & Disciplines
- identify the regions of a grocery store
- identify patterns in the organization
- Hands-on learning
This activity targets the following skills:
Critical Thinking Skills
- Geographic Skills
Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices
National Council for Social Studies Curriculum Standards
- Theme 7: Production, Distribution, and Consumption
National Geography Standards
- Standard 5: That people create regions to interpret Earth's complexity
What You’ll Need
Materials You Provide
- Colored pencils
The resources are also available at the top of the page.
- Small-group instruction
Geography is everywhere—even in the grocery store. Not only does your food come from all over the globe, it’s also arranged in patterns in the store like those that geographers study.
Recommended Prior Activities
any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.
Tips & Modifications
Modern grocery stores are sometimes arranged in a more free-form layout than the worksheet suggests. During Step 2, encourage students to adapt the shapes on the worksheet, if needed, or to create their own layout drawing on a separate sheet of paper.