CBC: The Great Human Odyssey – Lesson Plans by Tammy Gaudun

The Great Human Odyssey


Lesson Plans


The Great Human Odyssey explores the unlikely survival and the miraculous emergence of Homo sapiens as the world’s only global species. Ancient climate research has revealed that we evolved during the most volatile era since the extinction of the dinosaurs. Just like the many other kinds of human who once shared our world, we should have died away. Instead, our species survived to populate every corner of the planet, against all the odds.

The series is an excellent introduction the the Grade 8 Geography curriculum.  It provides a historical context for many issues addressed in the the Ontario Curriculum, such as:

  1. The ways in which the physical environment and climate change have influenced our earliest ancestors and their settlement patterns.
  2. A look at sustainable communities and the relationship between our ancestors and the environment.
  3. The series raises questions about the quality of life of our ancestors, allowing students to compare and contrast to other communities and times in the world.

Because the documentary series is a reflection of the lives of our ancestors, it is important for students to be able to compare and contrast some of these practices to modern  times, and apply this knowledge to help make predictions about the future of the human species.

This Guide for Educators contains several components. For the three episodes, there are content overviews, viewing questions, and critical thinking questions, a computer-based assignment, which involves three community case studies for the first two episodes.

  1. The Viewing Questions are meant to be answered by students while watching each episode, or in discussion after watching the episode.
  2. The Critical Thinking Challenges are meant to be “big picture” questions that can be posed to students at any point during instruction.
  3. Each episode also contains a Web Component, where students use technology to find maps and to examine one of the three Case Studies, using the interactive World of Extremes website. After watching the series, students are able to participate in a virtual reality experiment, walking in the shoes of Kalahari Bushmen, Chukchi reindeer herders or Badjao free-divers, through the interactive web documentary.

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Canadian Geographic – Classroom Contests

The beginning of the school year also means the beginning of Can Geo Education’s contests. This year, get your class excited about geography by signing up for one (or all) of our free contests!

Canadian Geographic Challenge
The Canadian Geographic Challenge is Canada’s national geography bee. It’s a great way to highlight how fun and diverse geography is. Sign up any grade 4-10 class this fall.

Classroom Energy Diet Challenge
Teach your students about energy using this fun and engaging program. Available to all K-12 classrooms.

Canada’s Coolest School Trip
This year, one lucky grade 8/secondaire 2 class will embark on an all-expenses-paid trip to number of Parks Canada places.

Visit contest.myparkspass.ca to find out where the lucky winners will be heading and register in September.

Grade 8 Geography: Disappearing Forests: Google Map changes since 2000


Using Landsat imagery and cloud computing, researchers mapped forest cover worldwide as well as forest loss and gain. Over 12 years, 888,000 square miles of forest were lost, and 309,000 square miles regrew.

Global view of problems … and fixes
Applications for the new global forest map range from calculating how much carbon is stored in the world’s forests to identifying what countries are logging trees most ravenously. “Whether you are a tree hugger or a logger, this map could be useful to you,” Hansen noted.

The map does bring a new level of transparency to forestry accounting, he added. It opens up for the world to see the impact of Brazil’s conservation policy, for instance, where the rate of forest loss was halved to 8,000 square miles a year over the course of the decade.

The map also shows that Brazil’s deforestation reduction is more than offset by increased forest loss in places such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Paraguay and Bolivia. Overall, the forest loss in the tropics is increasing by 811 square miles a year, according to Hansen and colleagues, who discuss the map in a paper published today in the journal Science.

Grade 8 Geography: World Population Pyramids & World Violence


Answer these questions on this Word document: World Population Pyramids

Click on several countries of the world and notice the different shapes of population pyramids. For example, check out Azerbaijan. Quickly scan the recent history of the country to see a possible explanation for it’s shape.

Currently, Zimbabwe has the largest youth bulge in the world.  As of 2012, the largest youth bulge is found in Zimbabwe, which has a population structure with 56.57% between the ages of 15 and 29. Briefly skim the article: Human rights in Zimbabwe.  Summarize in one or two sentences that might explain Zimbabwe’s youth bulge.


On the World Violence map, answer the following questions:

  1. True or False: the USA is more violent than Haiti?
  2. True or false: Egypt is more violent than Canada?
  3. Where does Canada rank, in terms of suicide?
  4. In gener1al, suicide is more prevalent in the  _______________ hemisphere.

Life Expectancy:

  1. Longest living country in the world is?
  2. Canada’s longevity ranking is?
  3. What is Haiti’s average life expectancy?
  4. Which country has an average life expectancy of 66.2?

Causes of Death:

  1. What are the top three causes of death for Canadians?
    1. Where is suicide on the list?
  2. What is the #2 cause of death in Guatemala?
  3. What do you notice about Haiti‘s life expectancy?
    1. What is the number one killer of Haitians?
    2. What is surprising about #4 and #6 on the list?

Grade 7 Geography Curriculum (2013): Text version

Here’s a link to the 2013 Grade 7 Geography Curriculum, but I’ve pulled out just the grade 7 section, in text format, for those of you who prefer a digital copy or like to copy and paste.

  • A. Physical Patterns in a Changing World
  • B.Natural Resources Around the World: Use & Sustainability



By the end of Grade 7, students will:

A1. Application: analyse some challenges and opportunities presented by the physical environment and ways in which people have responded to them (FOCUS ON: Spatial Significance; Interrelationships)

A2. Inquiry: use the geographic inquiry process to investigate the impact of natural events and/or human activities that change the physical environment, exploring the impact from a geographic perspective (FOCUS ON: Geographic Perspective)

A3. Understanding Geographic Context: demonstrate an understanding of significant patterns in Earth’s physical features and of some natural processes and human activities that create and change those features (FOCUS ON: Patterns and Trends; Spatial Significance)

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Canadian Geographic – Giant Floor Maps & Teacher Resources

All of these maps come with teacher guides and lessons! Check them out!

Parks Canada giant floor map

Parks Canada actively works to celebrate Canada’s unique geography and rich cultural history. Explore our great nation through our National Parks, National Historic Sites and National Marine Conservation Areas and take students’ learning to a deeper level with ten curriculum-linked activities. With engaging activities, authentic props and innovative teaching techniques, this map is sure to spark curiosity in students of all ages


Canada from space giant floor map

This map is out of this world. Canada from Space is comprised of images taken by Canada’s RADARSAT-2 and is the first of its kind. Explore how Earth observation satellites monitor Canada and can be used to protect and prepare Canadians. Through ten curriculum-linked activities, students will learn first-hand how pollution and natural disasters impact our country, the importance of Canada’s arctic ice, and the scientific phenomenon of the northern lights. They will also get a chance to see Canada from the International Space Station, through the eyes of the Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.


Energy production and transmission giant floor map

Energy is produced in many different places and in many different ways all across Canada. Dive into the complex transmission lines that crisscross across our country and explore Canada’s power generation stations, oil refineries, wind farms and more. Learn more

Wild Migrations giant floor map

As the first giant floor map to show all of North America, Wild Migrations was created in partnership with the Canadian Wildlife Federation and features the migratory routes of 20 different North American species at risk. Through 10 curriculum-linked activities and associated props, students will explore species migration, learn how animals are classified as at risk and be inspired to take action.

Arctic Alive giant floor map

The Arctic is full of life and comprised of more than fifteen ecosystems, thousands of plant and animal species and is home to more than 100,000 Canadians. Students can explore the natural diversity of Canada’s North through this giant floor map developed in partnership with the Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN). The map and the ten curriculum-linked activities encourage students to challenge and refine their perceptions of nature in the Arctic through the CMN’s four main disciplines: zoology, botany, palaeobiology and mineralogy. Learn how to introduce this resource to your class with this helpful guide. Get your students exploring the Arctic before the map arrives with this helpful introduction lesson.


The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Canada’s boreal forest dominates our country’s geography. Explore the region, from the tip of Newfoundland and Labrador to the Yukon/Alaska border, and learn about Aboriginal treaty boundaries, protected areas within the forest and woodland caribou ranges. With engaging activities and innovative teaching techniques, this map will spark curiosity in students of all ages.