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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG): the heart of geography
Where is Brazil? An identification of the human and physical features
The Brazilian climate
Urbanisation: the great tug of war
A city of two halves
The indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest
What is life like in Brazil?

Brazil - Urbanisation: the great tug of war (push/pull)

This lesson was created to develop an understanding of the differences between the urban and rural environment in Brazil. It is a human geography lesson that enables pupils to develop an understanding of push/pull factors related to urbanisation. It also has links to literacy and encourages pupils to write at length 

This lesson requires the classroom to be set up prior to the start of the lesson (see starter for details).

Within this lesson, the working wall can be developed to include key vocabulary, terminology and definitions. Pupils’ work should be displayed on the working wall following the lesson.

Key questions

  • What is meant by the geographical term: urban?
  • What is meant by the geographical term: rural?
  • Where is Brasilia? Is it in the north or south of Brazil?
  • Where is The Caatinga? Is it in the north or south of Brazil?
  • What is meant by the geographical term: push factor?
  • What is meant by the geographical term: pull factor?
  • What are the main push/pull factors in Brazil?
  • Why is the majority of the Brazilian population located in the cities?

Subject content areas

  • Locational knowledge: locate the major cities and environmental regions of Brazil. Concentrate on key physical and human characteristics as they relate to urbanisation.
  • Place Knowledge: understand geographical similarities and differences through the study of urban and rural areas in Brazil. Compare urbanisation in Brazil to urbanisation in the UK.
  • Human and physical geography: Human geography, including: types of settlement and land use, services, economic activity, and the distribution of natural resources including energy, food, minerals and water. Examining human and physical push and pull factors related to urbanisation.  
  • Geographical skills and fieldwork: Use maps and digital/computer mapping to locate urban and rural areas and describe features.


Additional Resources

  • Sugar paper
  • Counters/ figures (starter activity)


This lesson requires the classroom to be set up prior to the start of the lesson:

  • Each table should be presented with the images of the urban environment and rural environment (see Images of Brazil resource). 
  • One end of the table should have the images of the urban south of Brazil (Brasilia) and the other end should have the images of the rural north of Brazil (The Caatinga). 
  • Counters/figures for each pupils should be laid out at the rural end of the table ready for the start of the lesson. 
  • The Push Pull Sort Cards should be cut out and left on each table in the classroom.

The lesson will begin with an activity. This should be led by the pupils themselves to encourage independent investigative learning.

Beginning at the rural end of the table, the pupils should take it in turns to read out the push pull card statements. Once the pupils have heard and understood the statement, they should be asked the following question:

  • Would this statement make you want to stay in the rural north or move closer to the urban south?

The pupils should then make an independent decision, moving their counter in either direction.
The game will continue until all of the push pull statements have been read.

Following this, the pupils are given the opportunity to discuss their findings with the rest of the class.
The teacher can use the following key questions to support the discussion:

  • Where did you find your counter at the end of the game?
  • Why do you think most people found themselves at the urban (city) end of the table?
  • What do you think this tells you about the population of Brazil?

At this point the teacher should explain to the pupils that most of the large cities in Brazil are located
in the South of the country, leaving the north of the country mostly rural. Ensure that the pupils
understand the geographical terms urban and rural:

  • What is meant by the geographical term: urban?
  • What is meant by the geographical term: rural?


The main part of the lesson begins with a teacher-led discussion about push/pull factors. This can be explained to the pupils using a tug of war analogy. Explain that in most countries there are factors that push people away from a certain location and factors that pull people towards a certain location.

What is a push factor?
The reasons why a person moves from a particular area. Very often this is due to factors such as: lack of services, safety, crime, crop failure, drought, flooding, poverty, war.

What is a pull factor?
The reasons why a person moves to a particular area. Very often this is due to factors such as: higher employment, increased wealth, better services, good climate, more fertile land, lower risk from natural hazards.

Using the Urbanisation PPT, show the pupils the video links in which a push and pull factor are defined. Go to the BBC Bitesize website for push factors and the BBC Bitesize website for pull factors.

The pupils should use this knowledge and understanding to form a definition of a push/pull factor in their own words.

At this point the terminology can be added to the working wall.

Main Activity

Pupils imagine that they are living in The Caatinga (the rural north). In table groups, they should write down all of the reasons why people are pushed away from The Caatinga towards Brasilia (the urban south).  Dependent on time and the ability of the pupils, these ideas can be discussed and shared as a whole class.

Next, the pupils will plan and write a letter to a friend explaining why they want to leave the countryside (push) and move to Brasilia (pull). The pupils will be introduced to assessment criteria (see downloadable resources) which will support the structure of their letter. Pupils should have access to this before they begin the main activity.


  • Less able pupils: Will be provided with a writing frame (see downloadable resources) to support the structure and writing of their ideas. The pupils should be encouraged to use the ideas discussed in the previous task and the push pull cards to support and develop their ideas. 
  • Middle ability pupils: Will write a letter independently or in pairs. They should be encouraged to think about their use of geographical vocabulary and description whilst also referring to their literacy skills and use of openers and connectives. All vocabulary should be available to the pupils on the working wall.
  • Higher ability pupils (extension task):  The teacher should focus on working with the HA pupils within this task. The pupils should be extended to ensure they develop their geographical understanding. This can be carried out by encouraging pupils to think about the push/pull factors that may prevent people from moving to the city. The teacher should encourage pupils to use comparative connectives in their writing.
    o Key question: What may make someone move back to the countryside? Do you think that the city is always as great as people think it is?


The lesson will end with an opportunity for the pupils to share and self-assess their work.

Using the assessment criteria pupils will first self-assess their work. Following this the pupils will share their work with a partner who will be encouraged to provide feedback and improvement comments to their partner.

At this point (time dependent) the teacher may choose to share examples of excellent work with the rest of the class. Examples of the work should also be displayed on the working wall after the lesson.

Finally, the teacher should pose the question:

  • How do the push/pull factors within Brazil compare to those within the UK (e.g. rural areas to a city like London)?

Mayor of London

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