Broaden your child’s world view starting with the community around them with this neighborhood-themed lesson plan. 🏘️🏘️ We’ll cover a variety of life skills, like how to read a map, how to address a letter, and what to do in case of a fire while strengthening their literacy, math, and science skills. Print our skills tracking document to keep a record of the activities you complete and what you’re working on this week.
Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for kids ready for more). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) symbols
What you need:
Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):
- Home by Carson Ellis (or listen to this read aloud)
- How a House is Built by Gail Gibbons (or read it here on OpenLibrary)
- Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise (or you can listen to this read aloud)
- Molly, By Golly! The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter by Dianne Ochiltree (or read it here on OpenLibrary)
- The People’s Painter: How Ben Shahn Fought for Justice With Art by Cynthia Levinson
Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):
- paper + access to a printer (don’t have one? we like this model)
- laminator + laminator sheets (optional, but recommended for repeating lessons)
- dry erase markers
- deck of cards (or this printable)
- shoebox, scrap cardboard, or LEGOs
- a globe and/or laminated world map poster (we highly recommend having a laminated map for lessons, but if you’re in a pinch, you can print this one for the lesson)
- a map of the country you live in
- white cardstock
- two bowls
- a balloon
- a plastic soda bottle or a tall carafe
- an empty tissue box (the wide kind) or a similarly sized box
- yarn (or other kind of string or twine)
- spray bottles
- animal stencils (optional)
What to do:
We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!
For your child, your neighborhood starts at home! Start the week by reading Home. Discuss the different types of houses depicted in the book. Which is like yours? Which ones are different? How? Then get ready for a fun matching game.
Activity 1: Animals also have homes. Play this animal home memory game to match the animal to its home while also working on critical thinking skills.
Activity 2: House number families. Number families are three numbers that are related through addition and subtraction. To begin this activity, print out the linked PDF and laminate, if possible. Take your playing cards and remove the face cards, you will only be using number cards. Take your number cards (you’ll only need a few) and place them face up next to your house. Using a dry erase marker, write a number between 4-18 in the roof of the house. Use counters to count out the number that you have written in the roof. Find the playing card that matches that number and place it on the roof. Next, divide the counters in the two lower boxes. Finally, lay out a few playing cards that add up to the number in the roof and ask them to find the numbers that belong in the house. (If you don’t have playing cards, you can use the numbers on page 2 of the printable).
If your child has never worked with number families, demonstrate how it works like this: Write the number 9 on the roof. Pick the 9 card on place it on the roof too. Next, count out nine counters. Divide the counters into two parts. You can say something like, “Let’s divide the 9 into two piles. Let’s put 4 in this part of the house and 5 in this part of the house.” Next, ask your child to find the playing cards that correspond to those numbers. Your completed house will have a 9, 5, and 4 card in the house. Explain to your child that the number family is now complete. Repeat again with new numbers.
If your child is not ready for the game as described above, don’t use playing cards at all, only counters.
You can also view our video here demonstrating how to introduce this skill.
Activity 3: Finally, let’s build our own house! Start by reading How a House is Built. Next, encourage your child to think about how they want to build their house (they may want to draw it first) and what they can use to make it. Use LEGOs, a shoebox, or try this cardboard tutorial (scroll to the second tutorial)—encourage your child to use whatever they have available!
Today, we’ll take a look at our own neighborhood, including one of our favorite places to visit—the library! If your child doesn’t have their own library card, see if you can take a field trip to your local library (some even offer tours for homeschool groups!) to get one. Tip: We recommend keeping a special basket for library books in your homeschool space so they don’t get mixed up with the books you own.
Activity 1: Let’s start by watching this video about maps and how to read them. After watching, you may want to review cardinal directions with your child (north, south, east, and west).
Activity 2: Next, let’s figure out where we are in the world! First, on a globe or map of the world, find your continent and country. Next, use a map of your country to find your state or province. Keep referring to smaller and smaller maps until you get to your neighborhood. Next, get a paper map of your city or town (visitor’s centers often have these, or you can print one using Google Maps). Using stickers or drawings, label some of the places you go often, like the grocery store, library, and—of course—your house! You can also mount the map on corkboard and use pushpins to mark the landmarks. As you visit different places throughout the week, help your child to find them on the map and add new stickers, drawings, or pins to mark these places.
Activity 3: The library is one of our favorite local stops! Let’s read about one of the most groundbreaking librarians in the book Planting Stories. Then, let’s play librarian and practice sorting by number and letters with this hands-on activity. First, print these “book spines” and laminate if you wish to repeat the activity. Cut apart the books so they are each separate.
Explain to your child that that at the library, fiction books are shelved alphabetically by the author’s last name. Non-fiction books are shelved by card catalog numbers. Using a dry erase marker, write either pretend last names on each of the books (or you can simply use letters if that makes it simpler for your child). Have your child put them in correct alphabetical order.
Next, erase the letters and number the books. (You can either use chronological numbers, or jump around for more of a challenge.) Finally, have your child put the books in order numerically.
Today, we’ll take a closer look at some of our hometown heroes: firefighters! Let’s start by learning the true story of America’s first female firefighter by reading the book Molly, By Golly! If possible, contact your local firehouse to see if they give tours and take a field trip!
Activity 1: One of the best ways to work with our local firefighters is to practice fire safety! Start by watching this video for kids, then work together to fill out this printable family fire safety plan that you can keep somewhere visible.
Activity 2: Next, share this video about stop, drop, and roll to teach your child what to do if there is ever fire on them. Don’t forget to practice!
Activity 3: Another important part of fire safety is avoiding smoke in a fire. This video explains the importance of staying low if you need to get out of a burning building. Next, let’s do this STEM activity to learn why heat rises! Make sure to use a tall carafe for the activity, and you may need to boil the water for the best effect.
Activity 4: Climb the Ladder math game. Let’s play firefighters in this simple math game! Start by printing out the linked PDF. Cut out the ladders, firefighters, and cats (you may want to laminate them, if possible).
Tape the ladders to a fridge or a baking pan, and tape or glue magnets to the back of the cats and firefighters. Put the cats at the top of the ladder.
Now, let’s play! Tell your child that you will each have a firefighter, and you have to rescue the cats. Take turns rolling a die and moving that many rungs up the ladder to the top, and then subtract the roll to get back down. As you play, point out the numbers by saying something like, “You were on rung 4 and rolled a 6. 4 + 6 = 10!” If they get tired of rolling the die, you can also use the ladder to practice skip counting by twos, fives, and tens.
Today is all about the post office!
Activity 1: If your child has never been, see if you can take a trip to see your local post office. If not, this video shows you what you can typically expect at a post office.
Activity 2: Make your own mailbox with this simple craft, then get ready for some pretend play with our next activity!
Activity 3: Write my address activity. Start by printing the first page of the linked PDF and laminating if possible. If you are able to laminate, use dry erase markers to have your child practice writing their address, first on the dotted lines, and then on the envelope as if they were sending a letter. If your child wants to continue to play, print 2-3 of the second page for them to create pretend letters to mail in their mailbox.
(+) Now that they know how to address an envelope, encourage your child to write a real letter to someone they know. Then mail it!
It’s Art + Music day! Often, art around neighborhoods (also called street art) serves many purposes, from beautifying an area to even fighting injustice. Let’s start by reading The People’s Painter to learn about an artist (Ben Shahn) who used art for a bigger purpose.
Activity 1: Let’s learn more about street art, which has played a role in a variety of causes throughout the years. This video shares a kid-friendly explanation. After watching it, let your child try the name graffiti activity if they want to.
Activity 2: Another famous street artist is known by the name Banksy. This blog post shares more details about this anonymous artist’s work and has a fun “spray paint” craft to try at the end.
Activity 3: Have you ever seen anyone performing music on the streets of your city or neighborhood? This type of performance is actually called busking, and it has roots in the medieval era. Here are some fun facts about busking in major cities around the world you can share with your child. Next, let’s look at how street performance has changed! Here’s a video reenacting what street music might have looked and sounded like in medieval times and this one of the type of street music you might hear now. Have your child compare and contrast the two performances. How are they alike? How are they different?
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