Field trips and a hands-on project help students learn about communities

First-graders at Cedaroak Park Primary School spent time this spring learning about communities. They started small, talking about what makes a family and a home, and then broadened their knowledge by talking about the larger community that the students live in.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - First-graders, from left, (kneeling) Isaac Noesen, Tarin Buffington, (standing) Amelia Broyles, Alana Ryan and Damon Walls display their milk carton community.Field trips brought the learning experience to life as students visited local businesses to learn about the goods and services the community has to offer.

The students went high tech, too, using a computer program called Kidspiration to learn about similarities and differences among urban, suburban and rural communities. The learning unit wrapped up with a familiar low-tech activity: designing and building a model community using milk cartons.

“Each child designed the interior of his or her own home,” said Michelle Flagg, a first-grade teacher at Cedaroak. The students worked in groups to add communal spaces like hospitals, parks, markets and gardens.

“One class planted a garden as we studied how individuals and groups make communities better places to live,” Flagg said. “They used math strategies to solve neighborhood-related story problems and tackled design challenges to practice ‘city planning’ using footprint mapping and geometry.”

The first-graders wrapped up their community study by inviting family members and friends to attend a celebration that included a viewing of their milk carton community.

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