Develop a Culture

What makes a culture? Can you develop a culture?

A culture is a way of describing how a group of people live and work together. Culture includes the foods you eat, clothes you wear, rules of how you get along with each other, and how you use and understand the world surrounding you. Different parts of the world have many different cultures.

Let's imagine that you just landed on an unexplored part of Earth. You and your friends have decided to make a home here. You will need to create a culture.

First, imagine where you live.

Much of culture is influenced by the natural resources surrounding you. Draw a picture or map of the place you will live. Is it flat or hilly? Is the soil rocky, sandy, full of clay, or like garden soil? Is hot, cold, dry or rainy? Are there trees, caves, rivers or streams, or beaches nearby? Think about what plants and animals may surround you.

Next, try to answer the following questions:

  • What types of food do you eat?
  • What type of shelter do you use?
  • What kind of clothing do you wear?
  • How do you communicate with each other? (language, art, movement, symbols)
  • What do you do in your leisure time, or for entertainment? (music, painting, crafts, etc.)
  • Is there anything unique in your culture? (ceremonies, religion, lifestyle, etc.)
  • What natural features in your surroundings influenced your culture? How?
  • What symbols will you use for your clan?
  • Compare the culture you've created to the one you live in now. Can you answer the same questions about the culture you live in? How are they the same? How are they different?


People who study cultures are called Cultural Anthropologists. They ask these same questions and more about groups of people who live all over the world. Sometimes they study people in modern times, and sometimes cultures of the past. The answers to these questions help us understand why people behave and believe as they do. Understanding and respecting culture is the first step in learning to get along with people who live differently from you.

If you were telling or writing a story, you would also develop a culture to make your story believable and exciting. Writers of movies, books, plays and television ask themselves similar questions as they create other worlds of characters and possibilities for us to imagine and enjoy.