Teach your students to use their five senses to learn about their local community, including their homes and neighborhoods.
- Predict what they might see, hear, and smell on their neighborhood walk
- Use their senses to describe all the things they see, hear, and smell on a walk through their school neighborhood
- Assist with creating a map key
- Work cooperatively to create a block map of their school neighborhood
- Places Around Us Neighborhood Walk: Parent Letter printable
- Chart paper and markers
- Places Around Us Neighborhood Walk: Recording Chart printable
- Clipboards, one for each student
- White poster board or tag board, one sheet per group of four students
- Crayons or other art supplies
- Optional: Digital camera
- Optional: Urban Planner Homework Worksheet printable
- Make class sets of the Places Around Us Neighborhood Walk: Parent Letter and the Places Around Us Neighborhood Walk: Recording Chart printables.
- Decide on the date for your school neighborhood walk and send the Places Around Us Neighborhood Walk: Parent Letter home with each student prior to the lesson.
- Collect all permission slips and determine which parents can volunteer for the walk.
- Prior to the walk, share the Recording Sheet with each parent, emphasizing the walk's objective. Ask them to help record students' observations if necessary.
- Take a quick walk yourself around your school neighborhood, noting what you'd like to point out to students.
- Divide students into groups of four students for the walk and map assignment.
- Create a Prediction Chart by drawing 3 columns (See, Hear, and Smell) on a piece of chart paper and giving it the following heading: What We Might See, Hear, and Smell in our School Neighborhood
- Prepare a piece of chart paper with the following heading: Map Key
- On each sheet of the poster/tag board, draw "blocks" and label streets to represent your school neighborhood. Students will later fill in all the items they saw from their walk on this "block map." See the Tiny Town photo below for an example.
- Prior to Part 2, set up drawing materials (crayons, pencils, rulers, etc.) for each of the groups to complete their block maps.
- Designate a bulletin board to post the maps, map key, and digital photos.
Part 1: The Neighborhood Walk
Step 1: Tell students that they will be going on a walking tour of their school neighborhood. However, they must first predict what they will see, hear, and smell during their walk. Reveal the Prediction Chart you created ahead of time. Fill in each column with student responses and post the chart paper so you can check the predictions after the walk.
Step 2: Share the Places Around Us Neighborhood Walk: Recording Chart printable with students. Explain that the students' job is to observe what they see, hear, and smell during their walk and record their observations in the appropriate columns. Tell them to also look for other things they might find on the walk, like houses, buildings, street signs, bill boards, bus stops, and store signs.
Step 3: Break students into small groups and give each student a copy of the Places Around Us Neighborhood Walk: Recording Chart printable, a clipboard, and a pencil. Assign each group a parent volunteer and explain that the volunteers will be available to help.
Step 4: Embark on the school neighborhood walk. Take digital photos if possible. You should print them when you return so you can refer to them later in the lesson.
Step 5: When you return to the classroom, gather the students around the Prediction Chart and review. Ask students what can be added and/or deleted. Process the walking tour with a brief discussion of what the children observed. Collect their Places Around Us Neighborhood Walk: Recording Charts for assessment.
Part 2: Map Making
Step 1: Review the walking tour with the students. Tell them that they'll be helping you create a Map Key that includes all the things they saw. Later, they'll split into groups to make maps of their school neighborhood using the Map Key. Use the Prediction Chart you revised after the walk to review the things students observed.
Step 2: Discuss the things that should be on a map of their school neighborhood and list them on your Map Key chart paper. Explain the way a map key functions. Show students how they can draw pictures to represent items on their maps.
Step 3: Decide as a group what the pictures should look like for each item. If desired, have the "artists" of the class help draw the pictures on the chart paper. Post this Map Key for students to refer to while creating their maps.
Step 4: After the Map Key is complete, share the sheets of white poster/tag board with the students, pointing out how you have designated the neighborhood "block" and street names. Tell them that they'll be working in the same groups from the walking tour to draw in all the things that they saw, like the buildings, people, signs, cars, and fire hydrants.
Step 5: Remind students that they'll be using the Map Key pictures to represent neighborhood things, and they'll need to work together to decide who will draw each item. Give some examples of how they might do this. For example, designate one student to draw all the buildings, another to draw the signs, and so forth.
Optional: If you have digital photo prints available from the walk, share them with the students to "revisit" the neighborhood before getting started.
Step 6: Assemble the groups and help them decide where to work. Give them a block map sheet and drawing materials, and let them begin. Encourage groups to refer to the class-created Map Key and to use those pictures to represent each item.
Step 7: When the maps are complete, allow time for each group to present their map to the class. Post these maps and the digital photos near the Map Key.
Supporting All Learners
Parent volunteers can help students who have difficulty writing what they see, hear, and smell on the tour. Make sure to ask these students to give verbal responses to check for understanding.
- Write a letter or have students sign a class thank-you note to the parents who volunteered for the walk. Include a digital photo of the class if possible.
- Take more school neighborhood walks focusing on different objectives: interviewing neighborhood store owners/employees; measuring the neighborhood (how wide/tall is the store?); investigating how a particular store functions (restaurant, dry cleaners, fast food restaurant); etc.
- Assign the Urban Planner Homework Worksheet to allow students to transfer their learning to their own neighborhood.
- Encourage students to ask for their parents help when completing the Urban Planner Homework Printable.
- Have students count all the streets signs they can find and write down the information they find on the signs.
- Complete the Places Around Us Neighborhood Walk: Recording Chart printable during the school neighborhood walk
- Complete a group block map
- What worked and didn't work on the walking tour? What can be improved for the next walk?
- Were students able to complete their work with little assistance?
- Was student work organized and neat?
- Were students able to express themselves in written and/or visual formats?
- Review the Places Around Us Neighborhood Walk: Recording Chart printable to check for student understanding
- Check student maps to see if they transferred the pictures from the Map Key to their group map