Constructing Communities of Paper & Growing Communities of Learners

Our Community Construction Project is causing a lot of excitement this week during first grade social studies. Before spring vacation, the class learned about the concepts of needs and wants within the context of a community. The children listed everything they thought should be in a community. During another class session everyone worked together to color code the list to show which businesses provided “needs,” and which provided “wants.” Students constructed their homes during the first building session. During the next session they built the 15 most important businesses that are intended to provide for the town’s needs. We returned from vacation to face a very large piece of paper and a few boxes of paper bag buildings. Tuesday’s discussion began with the question “Where do we put houses and where do we put businesses?” The class used pieces of green paper to represent each yard and brown paper to represent the land for each business. After looking at several arrays the children worked collaboratively to agree on an arrangement for the town. They were pleased as they placed their homes onto the lots for the first time. The next session finalized business placement for the downtown area and included some reallocation of space to allow for more businesses. Finally, the class returned to the original list to discuss which of the “want” items could fit now. They had also created a sub-group of items that they called “need/wants.” These were things like a hospital or an animal shelter that are helpful, but are not always in every town. There was applause when we got further down the list and the toy store and movie theater were unanimously voted in. TPStown is a work in progress, but it is exciting to watch it grow and to see the thinking and collaborative efforts that are guiding its shape.

Does your school do something similar?

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