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Compiled By: shazam

Here are some ideas for teaching about communities.

Posted by: Amy

It's funny because I am also just about ready to start teaching a communities unit to my second grade class. I am a student teacher right now in the last term of my education program. I am planning on teaching a few lessons on rural and urban communities. I am going to read a book or have them watch a movie relating to city life and then have kids brainstrom what kinds of objects/people/businesses/facilities are in cities such as skyscrapers, lots of cars, hospitals...etc. I will write student suggestions on the whiteboard and may add a few of my own. Then I am planning on having students choose on of the one of the items that we came up with or another item that is located in a urban community and have them illustrate a picture and write the word under the picture. Then I will make a poster and title it something like Urban Community and I will hang up students work on one half of the poster. I plan on doing a very similar lesson for rural communities and then I will use the other half of the poster/bulletin board and title it Rural Communities and hang students work. The next lesson I plan on comparing and contrasting the two by teaching them what a venn diagram is and then as a class learning the similarities and differences of rural and urban communities. I would also like to do a lesson relating to a surburban community, but I'm not sure how. I also would like to do a few lessons on "Communities throughout the world" and do a lesson from each of the different continents excluding Antartica. Any suggestions PLEASE post them. Hope this helped.

Posted by: JENN

We are studying communities as well. We are building models of a rural, town or urban community using junk. They must draw a blue print/map with a legend,write a short blurb and present it to the class. They LOVE it. We also read the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse to compare the city and the country (although very traditional). Gruntle Piggle Takes off by Jean Little is another good story about a city pig visiting the country/farm. We are looking through phone books to see what is in our community, drawing and reading maps and creating slogans to represent our community. We're also using Venn diagrams to compare characteristics of different communities. You can include lumber communities, ranch communities, farm communities etc. I've included learning Canadian capitals and provinces in this unit as well. If you want more ideas just email me. I hope this helps.

Posted by: La

I teach third grade but our communities are around the world. At my school our approach to communities is not only using the textbook but also using nonfiction books about the different countiries (South Africa, Cameroon, Benin, Ghana, China, Brazil, Isreal, Mexico, Russia, England), fiction books, and folktales.
ie. Hill of Fire, The Village of Round and Sqaure Houses, IIt Takes a Village, The Masai and I, The Seven Chinese Brothers, Anansi Stories, Legends From Around the World, The Usborne Book of Peoples of the World. For each country they learn about the customs and beliefs, foods, clothing, shelter, and education/schools. They have made maps, venn diagrams (comparing urban and rural communities, their community and our community), models of the communities,written narrative procedures on how to prepare the special foods or the area being studies. They all listen to the music, play of instruments and learned dances that are part of the communities culture.

Posted by: rhea

Here's a quick idea that you may be able to adapt to your community, state, etc. To introduce the idea of communities, I began by reading the book A is for America (An American Alphabet)as a read aloud. We briefly talk about what is special about the US and then I read I is for Iowa (an alphabet book about people, communities, events in Iowa). We then identify more parts that make up Iowa as a community. We then brainstorm ideas for our specific town and each student writes a paragraph with illustrations to create a class book named after our town, ie J is for Johnsonville.

After studying rural, urban...students can complete Venn diagrams to compare the different kinds of communities.

You can also have students buddy read sections of the text book on their own, write questions and answers about the section and then switch with another group...these questions could also be used for assessment.

Just a few ideas-hope they help.

Communities activity
Posted by: Dana, too

I have used an activity on communities in my first grade classroom for the past couple of years that has worked very well. I have each student bring a shoe box, and we create a community inside. The students save their milk cartons for a few days, we rinse them out well and let them dry overnight before the construction begins. The students create roadways out of black construction paper, road signs out of popsicle sticks, etc. to glue on the bottom of the shoe boxes. The next step is buildings for the community. I have some reproducable building facades (houses, stores, school, church, etc.) that the children decorate, cut out, and glue onto their milk cartons. Then the "buildings" are glued into the shoe boxes. This really could go on could have them add community helpers, trees, parks, etc. The kids love it and it seems to really help them "gel" the idea of a community in their minds.
I also read "Town Mouse, Country Mouse" by Jan Brett, and contrast city communities with rural communities.
Have fun and good luck!

Posted by: Kathy

We studied communities in the fall and one of the things we did was to actually create model communities. I had someone from the Planning and Development department come in and talk to the the students. Then I had each group of students choose a type of community and make a "general plan." They also had to come up with a name and write down who was going to do what. Once I approved it, they could begin building.

This was a huge mess, but they enjoyed it and it was a great learning experience for them. Definitely "hands-on" if that's what you are looking for. E-mail me if you have questions.

We also took field trips around our community (Library, City Hall, Monticello Hotel, Water Treatment Center...) and I had guest speakers come in. There is actually a lot of information available on this website in the social studies area.

Posted by: kat

We just completed our section on rural communities. I did not do much in the way of hands on, but I did have a dad who lived on a dairy farm growing up come in and speak about his life. I also had a student bring in a video on farm life and we watched that. We are starting our section on urban communities. Last year I had my third grade students create a tri-fold brochure on a city of choice. It was wonderful. They had certain criteria that had to be in the brochure, but they could add more as long as it fit in my size requirements. Some of the elements were--5 childrens activities, 5 hotels, 5 restaurants, a website, a map, 3 pictures. It's really up to you, but it was a huge success.

Good luck

Posted by: Marilyn

I have taught lessons on communities in my second grade class for the last 11 years. When we study the city community we do two projects. The first is to make a skyline picture. We do this by taking a 12 X 18 blue piece of construction paper (students need to place it horizontally. We glue on that a large rising sun (use yellow, orange or a combination)with rays. Then we take black construction paper fold it several times vertical (you might need to use several pieces of paper to make enough skyscrapers) and cut the sections apart. Next, we cut the top of each skyscraper differently. We also cut of the bottoms off to make the skyscraper different heights. Finally, we glue the skycrapers right next to each other the length of the blue construction paper. We then display the skyline pictures.

The second project is to have the students build a skyscraper. This is an at home project.
Some of the guidelines are that the base of the skyscraper has to fit on the desk top, the skyscraper cannot be any higher than 24 inches.
Any materials can be used to build the skyscraper. Kleenex boxes, cereal boxes, pringles containers, wood, other boxes all can be used to make the skyscraper(I do not allow legos to be used in the actual building. The students then need to decorate their skyscraper. They can use pain, marker, alumium foil, stickers, etc. I do allow the students to use matchbox cars and lego people and trees to make a landscape around their skyscraper. Finally, each student has to give a skyscraper talk. They need to tell about their building, what materials were used and any other information they want to share. We display the skyscraper for the whole school to enjoy.

Posted by: Randi

I also did a unit on Communities. I tied in careers also. What I did was I had my kids actually create a community. Each student had to make a building. We reviewed our states and the line of symmetry's job. We folded construction paper to make a rectangle and a triangle. These two shapes were glued together to make a house. The students were then given lima beans. They had to tell me how many lima beans it took to go all the way around the house (perimeter). They then had to name it. Some were hospitals, schools, fire station, super markets, etc. I then brought in a big piece of butcher paper and we then made roads measuring how long we wanted them and put out community together. The kids really loved it.

If you choose to tie in careers also. An activity I did with my kids that really worked was as simple as making them choose a career that they want to do in the future. They wrote on a piece of paper, "When I grow up, I want to be a ___________________. They then drew a picture. We took a piece of ribbon and an envelope. We sealed their response. I wrote a note to their parents to hold on to in for a couple years and then read it with their child. Sort of like a time capsule.

Hope these help.
First Grade

Posted by: Jenn

This is a fun unit. I read the Town Mouse and the country mouse first and we talk about the differences between urban and rural communities. We do venn diagrams to compare. The final task is a hands on project. The group has to build a model of a community to demonstrate their knowledge of that community (ie, what would the community have, pay attention to spacing... lots of empty land in rural communities etc.) Then they must orally present their projects and do a written assignment. In the written assignment I ask them to explain the reasons someone would want to live in this type of community. I have more ideas if you want. Email me.

Posted by: Lori 2

Here are some books that I have used to teach communities worldwide to younger children --

Ann Morris's books --
Houses and Homes
On the Go
Bread, Bread, Bread
Shoes, Shoes, Shoes
Hats, Hats, Hats

A Ride on Mother's Back by Emery Bernhard

Everbody books by Norah Dooley
Everybody Cooks Rice
Everybody Bakes Bread
Everybody Serves Soup
Everybody Brings Noodles

Rookie Readers by Alan Fowler
Lving on Farms
Living Near a River
All Along the River
Living in the Mountains
Living in a Rainforest
Living in a Desert
Living Near the Sea

I also love Patricia Polacco's books to teach about family and community --
The Keeping Quilt
Chicken Sunday
Mrs. Katz and Tush
My Ol'Man
My Rotten Red-Headed Older Brother

Cynthia Rylant and Eve Bunting are also wonderful authors to explore family and community relationships. Rylant's When I Was Young in the Mountains and Bunting's Dandelions are wonderful.

I also love the family relationships in Amazing Grace by Hoffman.

Vera Williams -- A Chair for My Mother and its sequels are very nice

I love Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney to teach about giving back to the community in whatever ways we can.

I could go on and on, but perhaps that will get you started. If you need any more, just let me know.


Posted by: Stacie

Hi Jennifer!
This is my first year teaching second grade, as well as "communities." We have very old curriculum so I am trying to find new ideas as well. I made a book for the kids to put together. Each page has a title at the bottom and then they draw a picture/use magazine pictures to help set the scene. Our city is near a college so I included that as well. Here are the titles of my pages:
Cover - My Neighborhood Book by ___________
pg. 1 - This is the grocery store.
pg. 2 - This is the police station.
pg. 3 - This is where I go to school.
pg. 4 - This is the fire station.
pg. 5 - This is my house.
pg. 6 - This is the college.
pg. 7 - This is the Post Office.
pg. 8 - This is my favorite restaurant.

I have some other worksheets that I have collected from various social studies series. If you would like a copy, let me know and I would be more than glad to send them to you. Hope this helps.

Stacie Norling

Posted by: Ann

I liked your ideas on "communities". We start off our social studies with communities. The web is neat idea. Last year, after discussing the various places where parents, etc. worked, the
students worked in groups and used shoe boxes or
cereal boxes to make their store or business.
We then put all the finished boxes on a table and
made streets and labeled them. We displayed it in the lunchroom for all to see.

Just another idea. Have a great school year.

Posted by: tammy

I have built a "mini-city"
-cover a table with paper and have the students plan out their community - places they want - rivers,lakes parks etc.
Draw out lots and choose sites by drawing #'s
Kids can papermache milk cartons to make homes and decorate their town. You can lead into several things from this point - I have operated the town for a entire school year and taught many things using it - elections, landforms, people in the communities, jobs, money/banking - even roads and street construction. Have fun. Feel free to ask any questions.

Posted by: SAB

I am starting my unit on communities next week, and I just loved your "hands" activity.
I usually begin my unit off with a map of our community on the bulletin board. The kids draw a picture of their houses and write their correct address below-then place their picture on the bulletin board. Using yarn, we place it from their picture to their street. The kids really love this activity. A great way to start the unit.

community helpers
Posted by: stefanie parker

I read the Eric Carle book The Apron. Then I send home a form for the parents to send a "tool of their trade", for example, a pastor parent sent a Bible. Nurse parents have sent stethoscopes, etc. When we have these things at school, we share them and discuss how they help our community. Our next unit after that is Pilgrims and Indians, and we tie it together and talk about how they learned to live as a community.

community helpers
Posted by: teach

I would suggest for 4 yr olds keep it to figures they are most familiar with: teacher, bus driver, lunchlady, policeman, fireman, postman. You can have a little booklet made up with one page for each figure. Have a "teacher" figure and "My teacher's name is", A picture of a bus to color and repeat the same line with "bus driver". The lunchlady could be portrayed by a chef figure with a similar phrase. Use colorable pix for the policeman, fireman & postman with captions such as "The policeman is our friend. Firefighters help put out fires. The postman delivers our mail." Each day/week (however you do it) can focus on one person & you can set up activity/play areas that fit: a play school, cook food, driving a bus (a row of chairs), writing centers w/envelopes that can be "mailed" into a child's cubby, etc. We have had a fireman visit our classroom and we have visited the post office as part of our units. For snack we made "fire hoses" by stringing plain cheerios onto yarn & then eating them. We also made fire trucks by frosting graham crackers w/red frosting, using a piece of licorce whip for a hose (or ladder) across it & mini Oreo cookies for wheels. Hope these ideas get you strated!

Posted by: maggie

I do a community helper unit in first grade. We wrote community helper reports in groups of five. Each group first picked a career, and then I gave them sentence strips with the following:
1. I use ____and _____at my job. (They filled in with tools.)
2. I work at a ____________. (place)
3.My job is to ___________________.
4.I wear a _________and __________.
5.I am a ____________________.
To practice the vocabulary of community helpers, I had pre-made cards that fit in the blanks. So sitting with thier groups, I would hold up a card. If it said airport, the the group discussing pilots would get that card and fill it in thier sentence strips. If the card said, "enforce the law" then the police officer group would get that card. Once all the cards have been passed out, they filled in their sentence strips and then rewrite their report into a final draft. We posted these "reports" under pictures they made of their community helper. Hope this makes sense! Have fun!