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Project: LEAD | Curriculum | Resources | Workshops | Activities | About Us

Families and Neighborhoods 

Student Teachers: Becky Weiler, Kelly Lewis, and Justin O'Toole
Project Children L.E.A.D. Director: Dr. Vincenne Revilla Beltran
Subject Area: Diversityp_fam_ps1_200
Grade level: Preschool (3-4 years old)
Length of Lesson: 3 days, 30 minutes each


Learning Goals:

PA Early Learning Standards:

Approaches to Learning

  • A2.2 Demonstrate increasing ability to set goals and develop and follow through on plans.


Creative Arts

  • C1.2 Demonstrate the ability to represent experiences, thoughts, and ideas through the use of visual art forms.

  • C3.1 Represent fantasy and real-life experiences through pretend play.

  • C4.1 Understand and shares opinions about others' artistic products and experiences.


  • P3.7 Cooperate in small and large group activities.


NAEYC Standards:

Understanding Ourselves, Our Communities, and Our World

  • 2.63U Children are provided varied learning opportunities that foster positive identity and an emerging sense of self and others.

  • 2.68T-P-K Children are provided varied opportunities and materials to learn about the community in which they live.


Creative Expression and Appreciation for the Arts

  • 2.80T-P-K Children are provided varied opportunities to develop and widen their repertoire of skills that support artistic expression, such as cutting, gluing, and caring for tools.


High Scope-Key Experiences:

  • Creative Representation

  • Language and Literacy

  • Social Relations and Initiative




The students will be able to:

  • Discuss verbally the uniqueness of their family and neighborhood.

  • Design and construct their own home for the class neighborhood, out of a shoebox.

  • Design and construct in cooperative groups, a class neighborhood, using a variety of art materials.

  • Explore and express their ideas and feelings through actively participating/playing in the class neighborhood.



Book-Bear About Town-Stella Blackstone

Book-The Family Book-Todd Parr

Magazine pictures or posters of different/diverse homes, neighborhoods, and families

Large white butcher paper

Construction paper



Craft sticks


Washable paint (variety of colors)

Paint brushes



Plastic roads and tracks

Small toy cars

Diverse doll families



To accommodate individual needs, each project will be done in small groups, to allow for teacher assistance.





Day 1: Ask students what type of house they live in? How is their family special/different? Discuss with students during circle time, the uniqueness of very family and home. Show pictures of different types of houses and families. Then read the book, Bear About Town.



Day 1 continued:

  1. After reading and discussing the book, tell students that they will be creating their own neighborhood and homes out of shoeboxes.

  2. Divide students into small groups to paint shoeboxes. (Shoebox should already be wrapped with white butcher paper)

  3. In small groups, students will paint their shoeboxes using a variety of colors. (This should take about 15 minutes)

  4. After students have painted their boxes, explain that they will be decorating their homes and creating a class neighborhood over the next few days.



Day 2:

  1. Review with students during circle time, that everyone is special because we are different. (We have different families, houses, communities, and even look different, which is what makes us unique and interesting. Stress to students that it is ok to be different!!!) Read to students, The Family Book.

  2. After reading the book, tell students that they will continue to work on their houses and neighborhood by decorating the shoeboxes with construction

paper and craft sticks. They will also begin to color and draw grass, roads, rivers, and railroad tracks on a large white piece of butcher paper. (This will be the bottom area of the neighborhood).

  1. Divide students into two groups. One group will decorate their houses with construction paper and craft sticks. Provide glue and scissors. Stress creativity and expression. (Again it's ok to be different!) The other group will begin drawing roads, grass, rivers, etc., on a large white piece of butcher paper.

  2. After about 15 minutes, have each group switch to complete each activity.


Day 3:

  1. Tell students that today they will work together, to build their neighborhood. Explain that it is important to work as a team to create their community. (Again stressing, that even though we are different, we can work together to build something special.)

  2. Divide students into small groups, having each group place their houses on the butcher paper. Have a few students put together plastic toy roads and railroad tracks to add to the neighborhood. (This should take about 15minutes to complete)

  3. After neighborhood is built, have students take turns exploring their neighborhood. Use diverse doll families and toy cars, to enhance active learning and imagination. (Have students explore in small groups, giving 15-20 minutes for each group. Time length should depend on class schedule and might vary. Keep neighborhood in the block or dramatic play areas, for further exploration.)




Students will be assessed through observation. All observations will be recorded as anecdotal notes. Teacher will observe and record whether each child is able to discuss family and home. The teacher will observe and record each group when they are creating their homes and community. (Are the students using art materials appropriately and independently? Can the students work with their peers to create a neighborhood? Can students play cooperatively? Are students using their own imagination and creativity? Can they express their opinions and feelings appropriately?)



After students have had a chance to play and explore their neighborhood, gather the whole class for another circle time. Ask the students what they liked about their neighborhood? How is their neighborhood different and special?



The lesson and activity on families and neighborhoods went very well. We created a class neighborhood out of shoeboxes. It took us a few days, but the lesson seemed to work. Our class size is relatively large, so a smaller class might finish the lesson sooner. The students were very excited about creating their houses and then building a neighborhood. This project allowed for a lot of creative expression. It also gave the students a chance to work cooperatively together. This is another extension of diversity, celebrating both the differences and similarities of what makes us special. The children loved the new books and dolls. We had children that were so inspired, that they made their own houses and communities at home. The parents also seemed to enjoy seeing the feeling of accomplishment and excitement in their children's eyes. I think the students are beginning to understand that it's ok to be different and that everyone is special.