What Makes A Community?
As part of their social studies unit on communities, first grade students have been designing and creating their own town with all the elements that enable a community to function and thrive. Students have also been making interdisciplinary connections to their science curriculum as they study our local environment and incorporate the plants, trees, and animals native to Massachusetts.
In discussions with first grade teachers Jill Gibbons and Kelly Porter, first graders made a long list of all the required elements in a community such as a school, a hospital, homes to live in, and a police and fire station. Once their town had all the necessities, students could get creative and add the buildings, stores, and destinations that they believe make a community a desirable place to live. Next, they worked with partners to create each structure out of recycled materials brought in from home. Some groups focused their creativity on building one spectacular building, while others, bitten by the building bug, and have churned out five or six buildings! “They could build a Target, an ice cream place, or whatever they want. They love it because they are creating places that they know a lot about,” says Jill. “It’s very open-ended,” adds Kelly, “so they can build whatever they want and use that as a way to show what they know about what’s in a town.”
Once the town is complete with roads, buildings, and houses, Jill and Kelly will take the students outside to observe nature and see what kinds of trees and animals are found in our area. Then, tying into their science study of local flora, fauna, and habitats, students will take what they observe and incorporate it into their community.