7.5 (+) hours of lessons
In this module, students will learn to look at their communities in new ways. This module is designed to encourage youth to critically assess the way their communities function, look, and feel. It will help youth make a positive impact in their community, neighborhood, or school and thereby give them a sense of ownership and pride in the future of their community.
The module is designed to present issues that will impact the future quality of life in the student’s neighborhood, community, city, and/or state. The issues identified by the students will be focused within their own community, but will enhance their understanding of how local problems have implications for the nation and even the world. The process engages students in thinking critically as they identify issues and develop strategies to address those issues.
Age Levels: 8-14 years old
Accessibility: No limitations
Time Frame for Module: Each lesson is set up to have a 60-120 minute activity, some with take-home components for the students.
Total lessons in module: 3
Total lesson time within module: 7.5 (+) hours
Preparation Time: Range of 10-20 minutes per lesson
Tools/Materials Needed for Module: [ ] Cameras [ ] Pencils/pens [ ] Blank sheets of paper for students
- Youth will have a better understanding of their observations and will know how to take steps to solve problems they identify.
- Youth will know how to effectively voice their observations and concerns with media, officials, and other community members.
- Youth will take action on a problem as a result of a concern they identify.
- Youth will become effective social change agents in their community.
Lesson 1- Inside/Outside Activity: The World Through Your Eyes
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Lesson Time: 90 minutes total
1st session: (inside), 60 minutes;
2nd session: (inside), 30 minutes for reviewing the take home worksheet and discussion.
[ ] Pencil/pen [ ] Sheet of blank paper [ ] Take-home worksheet A
Synopsis: Youth investigate the world around them. They critically analyze their surroundings, starting from their bedroom, to the rest of their house, to the street, neighborhood, and larger community. This exercise will lead the students to the discovery of real problems in their environment that are in need of solutions. Students will begin to identify areas of their environment that they want to improve.
Lesson 2- Outside Activity: Neighborhood Nature Scavenger Hunt
Preparation Time: 15-20 minutes + time to find volunteers to go on the walk
Lesson Time: Approximately 60-120 minutes total
[ ] Use Scavenger Hunt Worksheet B1 + B2
Create your own to fit your program/group of students. Use lesson in module as guide
[ ] Digital Cameras : Cameras will be used for students to take 3 pictures each. One of something in the environment they love; One of something in the environment that needs to be fixed; and one of something in the environment that makes you feel unsafe.
Synopsis: Divide students up into groups. A 1:6 adult/student ratio is usually best for this activity. However, older students may be in groups on their own. The idea of the neighborhood nature scavenger hunt is for students to explore and make connections of what’s in their environment in the city. The scavenger hunt focuses on observation in the ‘living city’. Cameras will be used for students to document their investigating skills, as noted above.
Additional Activity: Neighborhood Sun-Prints
Preparation Time: 20 minutes to get the set up ready outside
Activity Time: 120 minutes
Allow 20 minutes per couple of students for the sun-print process. (It can go faster with more instructors helping)
[ ] Object from nature
[ ] Sun print kits: can be ordered here-
[ ] Shallow bucket of water
[ ] Piece of cardboard
Step 1: Have students collect a natural object from their neighborhood. (I.e. a leaf, flower, stick, feather)
Step 2: Instructions for sun-prints can be found here: http://www.sunprints.org/how-it-works/
Step 3: (Optional) Make an art wall inside with the sun-prints representing some of the nature found in the community.
Lesson 3- Steps To Take Action: Their Voice
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Lesson Time: 60-120 minutes (Depending on what the students focus on, this lesson can become a summer-long project the students can tackle)
Step 1: Identify concerns
Have students identify areas of concern in their community, neighborhood or school boundary, which affects their lives in some way. Make a list of all the ways the problem affects them and other people who they know. Have each student present the problem in a class discussion.
Step 2: List ideas for problem solving. Choose one.
Have the students make a list of ideas, which would positively affect the area of concern they have identified. Have each student present his or her ideas in a class discussion.
Step 3: List steps to solving problems
In a class discussion, identify ways students could, with some assistance, actually implement some of the ideas for change they have. For instance, the class could clean up a vacant lot, but couldn’t build a mass-transit system. However, though they could write letters to the Mayor.
Step 4: Begin steps to problem solve
Turn the problem into a class project making students responsible for carrying through with the steps they identified in step 3. This is their chance to get actively involved and learn how to affect change in their community.
Step 5: Identify your audience
Have the students identify sources they can contact for further assistance or information, such as community advocacy organizations, newspapers or government agencies. Utilize the available resources in getting attention for the project, find out how to influence a decision or change a bad situation.
* This lesson includes Community Problem Solving Resources within the module.