Global Patterns of Human Migration Activity

Global Patterns of Human Migration Activity

Students use maps and recent census data to analyze migration patterns across the globe.


6 - 8


Geography, Human Geography

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Learning materials


  • Recommended Prior Activities
  • Materials: pencils; pens

  • Required Technology: internet access; 1 computer per classroom; projector

  • Physical Space: classroom

  • Groupings: large-group instruction; small-group instruction

  • Prior Knowledge: push and pull factors

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • describe current patterns of migration across the globe
  • create their own map of human migration patterns
  • predict future patterns

Teaching Approach: learning-for-use

Teaching Methods: discussions; hands-on learning; information organization

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

  • 21st Century Student Outcomes
  • Critical Thinking Skills
    • Analyzing
  • Geographic Skills
    • Analyzing Geographic Information
    • Organizing Geographic Information


Human migration is the movement of people from one place in the world to another. Human patterns of movement reflect the conditions of a changing world and impact the cultural landscapes of both the places people leave and the places they settle.


1. Discuss the map of human migration around the world.
Project or distribute copies of the map Patterns of Human Migration and have students look at the current patterns of migration across the globe. Tell students that the thickness of the arrows indicates amounts of people migrating: thicker arrows indicate major migration streams and thinner arrows indicate minor migration streams. Emphasize to students that the arrows reflect current migration patterns and not composition of populations. Ask:

  • From which continent(s) are the most people emigrating? (from Asia)
  • To which continent(s) are the most people immigrating? (to North America)
  • What is one pattern of migration within North America? (Mexico to the United States)
  • Why do you think these patterns are happening? (push and pull factors)

Remind students of some common push factors and pull factors, such as better job opportunities (pull) or war (push).

2. Have small groups explore the data behind the map.
Divide students into small groups. Distribute copies of the handout Migration Data Table and the worksheet Global Patterns of Human Migration to each small group. Have small groups use the Migration Data Table to complete Part 1 of the worksheet. Provide support, as needed.

3. Have small groups create their own map of targeted human migration patterns.
Distribute copies of the World 1-Page Map to each group and have students complete Part 2 of the worksheet. Provide support, as needed. Make sure students include a map key.

4. Discuss students’ predictions about future global migration patterns.
Have a whole-class discussion. Use the provided Answer Key to discuss students’ answers to the questions on the worksheet.

Informal Assessment

Ask students to describe how the map of human migration around the world displays information about migration streams.

Extending the Learning

Have students explore migration relationships for countries other than the United States, and report to the class on their findings. Visit the provided World Bank website to download the full migration data set. The downloadable file, called the Bilaterial Migration Matrix 2010, can be opened in Microsoft Excel.

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices National Council for Social Studies Curriculum Standards

  • Theme 3: People, Places, and Environments

National Geography Standards

  • Standard 9: The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth's surface
Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Nancee Hunter
Sean P. O'Connor
Christina Riska Simmons
Expert Reviewer
Andrew C. Clarke, University of Otago, Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, Dunedin, New Zealand, University of Otago
Last Updated

February 23, 2024

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