Math and social studies come alive with the creation of an entire city built to scale. In first and second grades our City Project is an integrated theme that includes math, poetry, report writing, and group decision-making. We begin by brainstorming what is in a city and generate a long list including parks, hospitals and donut shops.
Children work in small groups sorting the items into categories, then choose what part of the town they would like to work on. We hold a crucial “Town Meeting” to decide what are the most important things to have in our city. Can we have a candy store and a doughnut shop if we don’t have anywhere to buy clothes?
As practice, we make a scale map of the classroom, shrink a drawing using graph paper and draw buildings and people to scale. Children create buildings with foam core and add details like windows, doors, and perhaps, a wind turbine!
We continue to have “Town Meetings” to decide what should go where and vote on a name for our city. Children then add trees to the town, make playground equipment and people and animals out of modeling clay. Finally, students write a short report about what they built and why it is important for the town.