It is difficult to define geography in a sentence. Geography helps us to understand our surroundings and how they change with time. In simple terms, it focuses on studying landforms, the environment, the earth, and its relationship with the inhabitants.

The term geography has ancient Greek origins. The Greeks discovered, wrote, and mapped the earth, and they required a word to describe it. So they chose the word ‘geo’, which means earth and ‘graphy’, which means to write. The extensive study of geography is further divided into two fields, human geography and physical geography.

Let us discuss what physical geography is for kids.

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Physical Geography

The concept of physical geography focuses on studying earth’s atmosphere, climate, landforms, oceans, seasons, soil, and streams. Physical geography is also called Physiography. Kids can get confused between geography and physical geography. To explain and make it clear for kids, the physical geography for kids definition is required to help them understand better.

Physical Geography for Kids Definition

physical geography for kids definition

Geography consists of two major segments: human and nature. The study of the nature segment comprises physical geography. Physical geography deals with various elements for collective study.

The study includes seasons of the earth, earth’s behaviour in relation to the sun, atmosphere’s composition, wind and pressure in the atmosphere, hydrologic cycle, disturbances caused by storms and climate, microclimate, climate zones, natural calamities, soil, flora and fauna on earth, flowing rivers and streams, erosion of earthen materials, weather, the terrain at coasts, deserts across the world, glaciers, ecosystems, system of geologic, and several other things.

Four Spheres of Physical Geography

The area which is close to the earth’s surface is segregated into four interconnected spheres, atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and lithosphere. These four different and interconnected spheres make a complete system, that is, life on earth. These spheres are useful for environmental scientists to study and classify both the organic and inorganic materials discovered on earth.

#1. Atmosphere

The atmosphere is layered with gases around the planet, and the earth’s gravity holds these gases in place. The atmosphere is simply the air. The planet’s air is 79% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, with 0.9% of argon. The atmosphere rises about 10,000 kilometres towards the sky from the ground level and consists of 5 different zones. Troposphere, Stratosphere, Mesosphere, Thermosphere, and Exosphere with an additional sixth layer called Ionosphere.

#. The Troposphere is the bottom layer where people live. The Troposphere starts from ground level and goes to 10 kilometres in height.

#. The Stratosphere is above the Troposphere, which rises 50 kilometres above the earth. It contains the ozone layer, and the air gets warmer in this layer.

#. The Mesosphere beyond the Stratosphere rises to 85 kilometres above the earth. This is the layer with enough gases which breaks the meteor entering the earth’s surface.

#. The Thermosphere rises to 600 kilometres from the earth’s surface beyond the Mesosphere. In the Thermosphere, the atmosphere is very thin, with the temperature going up to 3,632 Fahrenheit or higher. Many International Space Stations and satellites are found in this layer.

#. The Exosphere is the outermost layer amongst the five. The layer is very thin with hydrogen and helium gases.

#. The ionised part of the atmosphere between 48 km to 965 km altitude is called Ionosphere. The Ionosphere is an active layer overlapping the Mesosphere, Thermosphere and Exosphere. High energy particles coming from the sun interact with the atoms and create auroras in this layer.

#2. Hydrosphere

The hydrosphere is the layer that consists of all the water found on or around the surface of a planet. The hydrosphere includes lakes, rivers, oceans, underground aquifers, and also the moisture in the earth’s atmosphere.

Earth’s water moves through the hydrological cycle. The water evaporates and later falls on the surface in the form of rain. Some water seeps into the ground and later rises as springs, or some flow through the rocks into streams. This water meets with rivers, and the rivers meet with lakes, seas or oceans. Again, water evaporates to begin a new hydrological cycle.

#3. Biosphere

The biosphere is where most of the life of planet earth exists, from humans to animals to plants to single-celled organisms. The zone stretches from 3 metres below the ground to 30 metres above the ground. About 20 to 100 million species live in this sphere. In the oceans and seas, aquatic life primarily inhabits the zone 200 metres below the surface. But there is an exception for some birds and aquatic life living far outside these ranges.

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The biosphere is said to be made of biomes. Biomes are an area where we can find plants and animals of similar nature. A desert with sand, cactus, and lizards is one example, and a coral reef is another biome.

#4. Lithosphere

The lithosphere is the zone referring to all the rocks on the earth. Also, the earth’s crust and its upper mantle are the two outermost layers. The lava, sands, boulders are all the elements included in the lithosphere. The thickness of the lithosphere can vary from 40 km to 280 km.

The lithosphere on earth is divided into 12 major tectonic plates and some mineral plates. These plates aren’t fixed but fit together, and they move slowly. When the tectonic plates push against one another, friction is created, causing earthquakes, volcanos, and the formations of mountains and ocean trenches.

Physical Geography Sub-Branches

earth geography for kids

There are some sub-branches in physical geography, which are listed below:

#. Geomorphology is the study of landforms and surfaces of the earth.

#. Hydrology is the study of the water cycle.

#. Glaciology is the study of glaciers and ice sheets.

#. Biogeography is the study of life distribution across the planet.

#. Meteorology is the study of the weather of the earth.

#. Climatology is the study of the earth’s climate and atmosphere.

#. Pedology is the study of soil.

#. Palaeogeography is the study of historical geographies.

#. Coastal Geography is the study of coasts.

#. Oceanography is the study of oceans and seas of the world.

#. Quaternary Science is the study of the earth’s last 2.6 million years.

#. Landscape Ecology is the study of how ecosystems interact.

#. Geomatics is a field for gathering and analysing geographic data.

#. Environmental Geography is the study of interactions between people and the environment.

#. Astronomical Geography or Astronography studies the impact of the Sun, Moon and other planetary bodies on the earth.


The study of earth geography for kids is necessary as it will help the kids know the problems we face like population, pollution, global warming and other ecological threats. It is essential to define geography for the kids for a better understanding of their environment.

The Real School is an online educational platform that will help your child to develop good insights into geography and other subjects. You can take a free trial session at the Real School to experience the new learning methodologies adopted by our expert mentors.

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Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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