Engineer This: How to Build a Kindergarten Community
Hey y’all! Super pumped to share a project with you that brought our classroom so much color, life, and fun. It’s an excellent project for so many reasons. It’s kid-tested and approved, helps with the transition from “me to us” mindset that is so critical in kinder, builds and encourages creativity and problem-solving, PLUS, it reuses old materials, so it’s friendly to the environment. What’s not to love?
At the beginning of the year, we started with a Social Studies unit learning about ourselves. Throughout the year, we slowly branched out to our families, solving problems with friends, and eventually to our community. Our transition from the self to the community in the curriculum was intentional, as our kinderfriends are in the midst of that transitioning mindset in their own lives. Scholastic breaks it down well, saying of 5 and 6-year-olds, “they are transitioning out of the egocentric me stage, to a stage in which they have a greater understanding of the me within the us.”
Thus, the neighborhood project was born. To help our friends start to see where they fit as a contributing member of a larger whole. The project was the culmination of our community unit and incorporated art, engineering, and design – so win-win-win!
First, we drew plans of our houses. This is super important, as many students want to jump in with the materials right away BUT that can quickly lead to a mess without a cohesive finished project. I asked the students to label each part of their illustration with what they would use to build it after showing them all the materials we had available and displaying them to see while they planned.
Next, we learned how to read maps and placed our drawings on a map. This helped greatly with spatial awareness and planning. We used a 10×10 piece of poster board as our “lot size” so students didn’t end up with huge houses and they could all fit in the neighborhood.
Then, plan in hand, came time for construction! Students used recyclable materials (egg cartons/food boxes/paper towel rolls/etc.) combined with tape/glue/etc. to create a 3D model of their house.
After construction, teachers painted a base coat of white and let dry overnight. Once dry, the students painted on the details. Early finishers got to build the additional buildings of the community – hospital, school, store, etc.
In the future, I’d extend the project and have them add in roads and stop signs and whatnot. But overall it was a blast. The whole project took about a week and a half and our team was able to incorporate it in various subject areas, which was great! Want to give this a try? Download the FREE STUDENT PLANNING page below!
How could you incorporate this into your curriculum? I’d love to hear your ideas! If you need more resources for your neighborhood/community project, check out my Community Helpers unit!
Nice to meet you Bryce!
Thank you for this great idea! I am a teacher from Texas as well, however I have been teaching out here in Chine for the last 3 years. I am goin to modify this lesson for my ELL’s and would love yo keep you updated! Thanks again for this lesson!
That’s amazing! Please let me know how the lesson goes!