October 13, 2015
by Mary Harrison

Lesson plan

Pop-Up Communities

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Grade Subject

Students will learn to think about all that it takes to make a community function and apply it to building their own community.

(10 minutes)
  • Gather your students into a group. Start a class discussion about communities. First as: What is a community?
  • After some discussion, define community as a group of people living in the same place or having a specific characteristic in common.
  • Follow that up with a question like: What does a community need to survive?
  • Write your students' answers on the board.
  • Ask guiding questions to help them think of answers they might not have included, such as: What about someone or something to protect them? What about food and water? * Repeat this until you have all of the pieces of a community that you've discussed.
  • Ask students for real-life examples for each term. Ask them to give examples for each term. For example: Protectors: military, police officers, and fire fighters. Food: apples, cheese, steak.
  • Explain that these are the things that allow communities to work and survive. Your students will be using these examples for inspiration when creating their own communities.
  • Display your example pop-up community. Your sample should include a leader, protector, sustenance, citizens, and shelters. Walk your class through examples of each, defining words if necessary. For example: Explain that sustenance refers to food and drink used to nourish people, and citizens are the people who live in a community.
  • Encourage your class to use their imaginations when brainstorming elements for their communities. Tell your class that they can make any kind of community that they want, as long as it has what it needs to survive, a leader, protector, shelter, citizens, and sustenance.*
  • Instruct your students to name their communities.
(10 minutes)
  • Send your students to their desks. Pass out the art supplies to each table of students.
  • Once the supplies have been distributed, instruct each student to choose a piece of card stock (or heavy construction paper) as the base of their pop-up.
  • Get everyone's attention to model how to create the pop-up.
  • Fold your sheet of paper in half hamburger style.
  • From anywhere along the fold, cut a tab two inches long by 1/2 inch wide. Length of tabs may vary for depth difference on the card when opened. You want about three tabs along the card.
  • Open card.
  • Push tabs through to the inside.
  • Crease tabs at the fold mark, and on the top and bottom of the card to make it stand.
(20 minutes)
  • Walk around the room and help each student get their tabs ready. Assist students as necessary, helping them fold the tabs properly.
  • Once they finish, encourage them to begin creating their pop-up community. Tell them to start with drawing a background on their sheet of white construction paper.
  • Instruct students to draw, color, and cut out each item in their community. Each item should be glued on to its own tab.
(45 minutes)
  • Allow students to work on their own on their communities and help as needed.
  • Let students know periodically how much time they have to complete their communities.
  • Enrichment: Challenge advanced students to think about one problem that a community may have. Ask them guiding questions to think of one. Once they've chosen a problem to focus on, instruct your students to write a few paragraphs explaining the issue, and what the community does to solve it. Remind them to reference the items in their communities in their writing.
  • Support: Gather students who need additional support together in a small group. Go through each element of a community with them, defining each term and soliciting examples of each. Encourage your students to write the definition and examples down.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to show you each part of their community (leader, protector, shelter, sustenance, and citizens) as they complete them or as you walk around.
(10 minutes)
  • Encourage your students to walk around the room to look at each other's communities and ask each other questions.

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