Monday, September 30, 2013

A Second Grade Tabletop Community!

I have so many fun things to blog about! I'm going to try to *squeak* time in to share the fun happenings in my classroom throughout the next month. 



We started social studies with a unit on communities. This is the third year in a row that I have started the year with a communities unit since it is a perfect companion to building a classroom learning community. This time, I changed it up and gave my students A LOT of freedom to create a community of their own. I was very impressed with the results!

After learning about urban, suburban, and rural communities, it was time for my kids to create a community all their own. They were so excited to learn new vocabulary! Each student voted on the type of community they wanted to create with evidence supporting why they were voting this way (connecting this unit to common core standards). The students stacked their note card votes to create a giant bar graph. An urban community won by a landslide (they did almost EVERYTHING without my help)! 

I explained to my students that we couldn't just build a community. It was important to work together as a planning committee to plan what was needed to create a functioning community. Our essential question is seen below! 




I created a chart with 4 columns, each column included a part of a community. Students worked in table groups to discuss and place a post-it note on each column with what they believe is needed in a community. My sweet second graders came up with an amazing list! They even thought to include a nursing home, dog park, and garbage cans to help eliminate pollution... so thoughtful! 

I then had volunteers choose what they wanted to create. I chose a small {capable}group to map out our community and include spaces for all of the buildings. 






This group did such a great job mapping out the roads, building locations, parks, and even train tracks! I was very impressed! They thought of everything! I can't tell you how lovely it was to just sit back and let them do their thing, knowing they totally understood what I was aiming for. 



Again, I gave my kids almost complete freedom. The houses and community buildings aren't perfect, but I think that makes their community even more special! It's not a cookie-cutter look... it's all them. 





The final result is very sweet and uniquely theirs! My kids were so proud of their creation... I overheard my kiddos talk about how amazing it was to one another and how they couldn't wait to show their parents. I couldn't help but smile at their ownership and enthusiasm :)

Tomorrow, we're going to work on mapping skills and map out our community. Lastly, I'll include a non-fiction writing project to assess their understanding of what makes a great community! I'll have more to share soon!

Do you teach communities in your classroom? What fun community ideas do you have to share??

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