A Community Constructed Through the Vision of Third Graders

by: Stuart Maloff, Tracy Theodoropoulos and Erin Mukri, Third Grade Teachers, ACS Athens

Ethos Magazine, Winter 2013, Vol 8, Issue 1

As a cumulative project for their unit on regions, the Third Grade team worked collaboratively on creating a model of a community. First, students learned several concepts that enhanced their understanding of what regions consist of, such as physical features and natural resources. They were immersed further, to discover why communities are built near water and what we can do to help preserve our natural resources for future generations.

Mr. Maloff pioneered the project in his class where students worked in cooperative learning groups. Each team brainstormed various physical features a community may have. From these physical features, students listed natural resources that can be extracted from them. Next, they generated a list of essential structures in a community such as a police and fire station, homes, and a school. Students then planned what a community may need when it expands such as a hotel, pool and restaurants. The class worked in small groups to start the construction of a community through the vision of Third Graders. A solid foundation was started, but the community was still in its infancy.

From Mr. Maloff’s class, the community was brought over to Ms. Theodoropoulos’ class for phase two. Each team focused on building and adding more physical features to the community.   They built a forest, a desert and embellished the existing beach. They also constructed a spectacular waterfall at the edge of the model which turned out to be a fabulous landmark and has caught the eye of those who walk by the project. The community ballooned from a small village to a growing city.

Finally, Ms. Mukri’s class ventured downstairs to not only finish adding the final physical features, natural resources and structures to the community; they also expanded the already established community. The school they developed was extremely impressive with elaborate details. Students from all the classes marveled at its appearance. When they finished, this growing city had turned into a mini metropolis.

Third Graders not only learned a lot more about the content of the unit, they practiced an important math skill, measurement, and expressed themselves artistically. Most importantly, the students had fun while learning!

Plans are already in the works to take this project to another level next school year. Students will give the community a name and create an advertising campaign including a travel brochure to convince others to move to their fictional town.