Materials List: shoeboxes and/or milk cartons, green construction paper, art supplies
This activity involves creating a town that will undergo many changes. If the community the students live in has undergone many changes throughout history, this activity might be introduced by talking about the changes. Perhaps the old Main Street is no longer the center of the community, as it once was. Perhaps the community has spread out and has developed into multiple neighborhoods, each of which is almost a community in itself.
For this activity, set aside an area that won't be disturbed for two or three weeks. A special table covered with green construction paper could be set up. Discuss with students what will need to be added to the table to create a setting for a town. Students might suggest roads, bodies of water, and other features. After the physical features are completed, have students build homes using shoeboxes or milk cartons. Then place them throughout the community. Discuss with students why homes were placed in specific locations around their community. Tell students that long ago many people had to grow their own food so houses were far apart which allowed for farming of the land.
Discuss with the students how the community changes as it grows. Discuss the need for increase in housing as the community grows and how the changes impact the community. How has the original setup of the town changed? Have students had to build new roads? Do residents have less land surrounding their homes? Have students keep a journal of the changes that have occurred since the start of the community. Take pictures as the town goes through various transformations to document the changes.
As more homes are built, discuss the impact on the people who live in those homes. Soon the community will grow so much it will need a variety of services. Discuss with students things they might need to add to their community (e.g., stores, a church, a library, a post office, a restaurant, etc.) Where will those businesses/services be located? How will adding those businesses impact the community? Have students create some businesses, and discuss where those businesses will be placed. Will trees need to be ripped up? Is the park going to have to go? Does another street need to be constructed?
As the community grows and changes, discuss how those changes have impacted the original community. How might the community continue to change in the years ahead?
Finally, bring the discussion back to the students' own community. Which of the changes to the model community are reflected in their own community? How has the community responded to the changes made to it? Discuss with students how their own community has changed in the past and how it might need to change in the future. Discuss how this will affect their lives and the lives of the people in the community. Discuss why and how residents had to modify the physical environment over time.