"Our Neighborhood" Project
The "Our Neighborhood" project introduces kids to structured ways of thinking and expressing ideas about the people, places and things that matter most to them. The lessons build on the information and experiences that the children and the instructors already have about the culture around them. Click below to see the lesson plan for each of the eight sessions.
When conducted in a group setting, these activities will build children's vocabulary and help them develop social skills. Children will practice cognitive skills through reading, writing, counting, adding, measuring, labeling, drawing and creating crafts. A variety of options for products—things that children can design and make on their own—are presented. The main goal of the project is to produce something as a group that can help other children and adults learn about their community.
"Our Neighborhood" is designed to be adaptable to a variety of interests and ways of working. It can be done in sequence or out of sequence, in parts or as one continuous, connected project. Because many out-of-school programs follow the academic calendar of winter, spring and summer terms, an 8-week project is suggested. Assuming a typical term of 12 to 13 weeks, this schedule allows extra time for field trips; preparatory activities, such as team building; closure activities, such as family nights; and extension activities.
"Our Neighborhood" is designed for 6- to 8-year-olds. Age, identity, family and community are common themes in children's schoolwork, in the literature and media they are exposed to, in the games they play, and in their personal lives. These themes are also relevant to older children and teens, and the project can be adapted by selecting reading material, group activities, Web sites and software that are appropriate for older children.
This project will introduce collaborative reading, writing and groupwork processes, such as brainstorming, labeling, mapping and storyboarding. Computer-based activities emphasize multimedia skills, such as creating and editing original drawings, photos and text, and introduce basic Internet navigation skills.
"Our Neighborhood" is an inquiry-based project. Children will formulate questions about their families and communities, and the adult facilitators will help the children figure out how to find the answers, do the investigations and document what they have learned. The facilitators will help the children identify questions that they want to investigate for the project. Questions could be broad, such as:
- Who lives in my community?
- What do people in my community do?
- What are important places in my community?
- Where are the places for kids in my community?
Or questions could be more specific to a particular topic, such as:
- What animals live in the neighborhood park?
- What do the animals in the park eat?
- Where do the animals in the park sleep?
- What things can we do to help the animals in the park?
Groups doing this project will have the option of making one or more of the following products:
- A group journal
- A group "slide show" (multimedia presentation)
- A group Web page
Children will also create the following individual products:
- A personal journal
- Personal newsletters
- Reading: Children will read and be read to during every session.
- Writing: Children will practice composing words and sentences during every session.
- Oral presentation: Children will practice speaking in front of a group and listening to others while they are speaking.
- Presentation of mathematical data: Children will have the option to collect, analyze and organize numeric information during one or more sessions.
- Organizing information: Children will sort and categorize information on maps and cards.
- Visual communication: Children will compose, take and edit photos; draw by hand; and draw using software tools.