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Teaching Community

Teach community with truck rallies, pen pals, and more.

By DeAnn Marie O’Toole
  • Grades: PreK–K

4 Books on Community

Use these picture books as jump-off points for more activities during your unit on community.

1001 Things to Spot in the Town
by Anna Milbourne, illustrated by Terri Gower

Be My Neighbor
by Maya Ajmera and John D. Ivanko

When I Grow Up
by P. K. Hallinan

My Neighborhood: Places and Faces
by Lisa Bullard, illustrated by Brandon Reibeling

Hats Off!

What it teaches: Careers in the community

What You’ll Need: Nonfiction book, sentence strips, construction paper

What to do: Read Whose Hat Is This? A Look at Hats Workers Wear—Hard, Tall, and Shiny by Sharon Katz Cooper. Discuss the different hats and words that could describe them: big, soft, black, etc. Then brainstorm a list of jobs for which the workers don’t typically wear hats. What would a hat for a teacher look like? Would it be decorated with apples and rulers? How about a veterinarian’s hat? Would it be covered in dog biscuits and collars? Have each student make their own silly worker hat using construction paper cutouts and sentence strips as headbands. When the kids are done, have them wear and share their new creations.


Local Pen Pals

What it teaches: The ways community members are similar and different

What you’ll need: Pencils, paper

What to do: Forging bonds between young and old within a neighborhood is a great way to teach both community and history. To make that magic happen, contact a local retirement community and ask for volunteers to become pen pals with your class. Compile and send letters once a month and ask that the members write back. Over the holidays and near the end of the year, plan to visit your new community friends. Prepare a couple of songs and have kids bring colorful pictures they’ve drawn of the neighborhood as gifts. Take photos of the occasion to send in future letters.


Where Do People Live?

What it teaches: The ways urban, suburban, and rural communities are similar and different

What you’ll need: A version of the story “The Country Mouse and the City Mouse,” sticky notes, paper lunch bags, newspaper, construction paper

What to do: Discuss what life is like in the city and in the country. Let kids talk about times in their lives they’ve visited each and compare how the two are different and the same. Ask students which kind of community they live in. Make a Venn diagram on the board labeled “City” on one side and “Country” on the other, and ask students to place a sticky note with their name on it showing whether they’d prefer to be a “city mouse,” a “country mouse,” or somewhere in between (a “suburban mouse”). Next, have students make a 3D community of their own! To make a city skyline, cut paper lunch bags to different lengths. Paste premade 1” x ½” black and yellow rectangles on one side as windows and add other details to the buildings. Stuff the bags with newspaper, then fold and tape the tops closed and staple them to a bulletin board. Now, have kids decorate bags to look like rural homes, farms, and silos, and attach them to the other side of the bulletin board. As an added touch, place school photos of the kids in the windows of the buildings and around the farm.


Truck Rally

What it teaches: Careers in the community

What you’ll need: Photos of different types of trucks (cherry picker, cement truck, ice cream truck, postal truck, fire truck, dump truck) and/or various toy trucks

What to do: To kids this age, trucks and what they do (trim trees, collect garbage) or what’s in them (ice cream, big loads of gravel) are endlessly fascinating. A great way to teach about careers in the community is to talk about what truck drivers do. Ask parents to send in toy trucks and find photos or drawings of trucks in books or magazines. After you have a discussion about all the jobs involving trucks (and maybe even get a local driver to come in and talk about what he or she does), ask each student to make a model of his or her favorite truck: They can use white construction paper for the truck body, black precut circles for the wheels, and other paper cutout decorations. Let each student share his or her favorite truck with the class before making a convoy on your hallway bulletin board. Added treat? A field trip to the ice cream truck!  

  • Part of Collection:
  • Subjects:
    Social Studies, Character and Values, Life Experiences
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