My Building, My Community

By Sharon DiMarco, November 12, 2008

Grade Level

  • PreK-1


  • Architecture

Subject Area

  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

two 45 to 60-minute lessons


In this activity, students will explore the concept of "neighborhood." After receiving table assignments from the teacher based on students’ strengths and differences, students brainstorm different buildings that make a up a community.

Students will walk as a team to photograph buildings they see. Students will use real images of buildings to inspire them to select the building they choose to make in their classroom “neighborhood".

Students design a building located in their neighborhood. Once students have identified parts of their neighborhood, each student explores his/her community to choose a building to create. This lesson is specific to the Social Studies concept "Roles in My Community". This is the first lesson that is designed to make the physical space of the classroom connect with the physical spaces in any community.

National Standards

Thinking and Reasoning
Standard 1.  Understands and applies the basic principles of presenting an argument
Standard 2.  Effectively uses mental processes that are based on identifying similarities and differences
Standard 5.  Applies basic trouble-shooting and problem-solving techniques
Standard 6.  Applies decision-making techniques

Working with Others
Standard 1.  Contributes to the overall effort of a group
Standard 4.  Displays effective interpersonal communication skills

Language Arts
Standard 8. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes


Students will:

  • walk as a team to photograph and identify various buildings in their school neighborhood
  • list names of buildings they photographed on their walk
  • describe what kind of building they will construct in their neighborhood
  • sketch an idea for their personal building
  • choose specific geometric paper shapes to construct their building
  • manipulate geometric paper shapes to make their personal building
  • cut or convert given geometric shapes to compose the building they make
  • recognize and reproduce geometric shapes
  • fasten shapes together
  • articulate their design decisions


On the Town: A Community Adventure, by Judith Caseley




  • paper (journal, sketching)
  • pencils
  • crayons
  • disposable camera for each group
  • cardboard
  • geometric shape cut-outs
  • scissors
  • glue
  • markers
  • different types of materials for texture (sand paper, cotton balls, foam, tiles, etc.)




  • sketch: a rough design, plan, or draft, as of a book
    community: a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage
  • neighborhood: a number of persons living near one another or in a particular locality
  • texture: the characteristic physical structure given to a material, an object, etc., by the size, shape, arrangement, and proportions of its parts





Lesson 1

1. After reading "On the town: A Community Adventure" by Judith Caseley discuss with students what makes a community. Discuss with students new introduced vocabulary: “community” and “neighborhood.” Talk/discuss our school community compared to our home/city community. Discuss what buildings make up a community and reasons/importance of these buildings (stores, schools, hospitals, libraries, etc.).

2. Tell students that you will be taking a class walk around the neighborhood. Excite students by telling them that they will have a chance to recreate a part of the community. Explain, before doing this, that they must use their five senses to explore.

3.  Before taking a class "neighborhood walk" discuss which behaviors we use when observing. What we use our eyes, ears, and hands for. Remind and encourage students to explore as we take our walk.

4.  Give each group of four a disposable camera.  Instruct the students how to use these cameras before leaving for the walk. Tell students that they are going to capture objects that make up our community using these cameras.

5.  On the class walk note and discuss different buildings and their possible purposes.  Encourage students to ask questions and engage in discussing shapes and colors of buildings.

6. After returning from the class walk, assign a specific public building to each group (hospital, school, library, police station, etc.).  At the end of the class, have each student sketch what they think that building should look like.  Encourage them to use descriptive vocabulary of the buildings such as shape, size, color, location, etc.

Lesson 2

1. Before class, develop the pictures the students took of the local community.  Hand out the photographs. Discuss the different photos and what each student found while they were exploring.

2. Talk about the different shapes students noticed. Tell students that they are going to choose from pre-cut geometric shapes to create their individual building. Have students lay out their sketches and photo to plan out their design.

3. To reinforce shape recognition, review shapes with students.

4. Discuss with students different textures they may have noticed. Encourage students to explore and think of ways they could add texture to their design. Have supplies available to students to allow them to create different textures.

5. Have students discuss as a group how they will design their building. Remind them to think about what the building is used for.  After they have decided how they will design their building, allow the students to begin creating.

6. Have each student discuss his or her design. Encourage students to discuss why they have made their design decisions (color, shape, texture, etc.).  Give students the opportunity to ask each other about their buildings. Let students explore each other's creations.




Have the students answer the following questions:

  • What building did I choose to create?
  • Why did I choose that building?
  • What shapes/ textures did I use to create my building? Explain
  • If I could make one change, what would I change about my building?



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