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Our Changing Community

Teacher Lesson

Subjects

  • Arts and Humanities: Architecture
  • Geography: Regions and Cultures
  • Social Studies

Grades

  • K-2
  • 3-5

Brief Description

Students get a firsthand feel for how communities change as they grow and develop by building a model community and documenting how it changes over time.

Objectives

Students will

  • develop an awareness of how communities change.
  • recognize changes in a model community.
  • make decisions on how a community might change.
  • identify positive and negative changes that have taken place in a community.

Keywords

Social studies, communities, community, family, neighborhood

Materials Needed

  • various colors of bulletin board paper
  • milk cartons or shoeboxes
  • display area
  • toy cars and people
Other appropriate books with bullying themes might be substituted for the above titles.

Lesson Plan

This lesson, which teaches students how communities change, involves creating a town that will undergo many changes -- some positive and some negative. The activity provides a way for a single class or several classes to see in a concrete way how the things they do impact others. It can be used as a teaching lesson or as the culmination of a year-long study of the community.

If the community your students live in has undergone many changes throughout history, you might introduce the lesson by talking about that. Perhaps the old Main Street is no longer the center of the community, as it once was. Perhaps one section of town has seen a variety of different groups/nationalities of people settle in it over the years. Perhaps the community has spread out and has developed into multiple neighborhoods, each of which is almost a community in itself

For this lesson, you will need to set aside a sizeable area that won't be disturbed for 2-3 weeks. You might set up a special table covered with green construction paper. Discuss with students what will need to be added to the table to create a setting for a town. Students might suggest roads, bodies of water, and other features. You can use black paper to add roads, blue construction paper to add bodies of water, and so on.

After the physical features are completed, it is time to "build" homes in the community. What kinds of homes will students build? Will different types of homes be located in different parts of the community? Students might use shoeboxes, milk cartons, and art supplies to create different styles of homes. (This might be a homework assignment.) When the homes are completed, have students place them throughout the community. Why do students place the homes in specific locations around their community?

How does the community change as it grows -- as more homes are built? Discuss the impact on the community of new construction. How has the original setup of the town changed? Have students had to build new roads? Do residents have less land surrounding their homes? List the changes.

If you have a digital camera available, take pictures as the town goes through various transformations to document the changes.

As more homes are built, discuss the impact on the people who live in those homes. Soon the community will grow so much it will need a variety of services; they might include grocery or drug stores, a hair stylist, a church, a dry cleaner, a bakery, a restaurant Where will those businesses/services be located? How will adding those businesses impact the community? Have students create some businesses. Discuss where those businesses will go. Will trees need to be ripped up? Is the park going to have to go? Does another street need to be built?

If multiple classes are working on this project, one or two classes might be responsible for creating homes, while another class creates the businesses.

As the community grows and changes, discuss how those changes have impacted the original community. How might the community continue to change in the years ahead?

Finally, bring the discussion back to the students' own community. Which of the changes to the model community are reflected in their own community?

Assessment

Students might write a thoughtful paragraph about

  • what they learned from this activity.
  • how the community responded to the changes made to it.
  • how their own community has changed in the past and how it might need to change in the future.

Submitted By

Sharon Hall, South Lebanon Elementary, Maineville, Ohio

05/08/2003



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