Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Exporing Our Community
Lesson 3
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Students explore attributes of the community in which they live. They compare rural, urban and suburban communities and attempt to classify their own community.


One Forty-Five Minute Class Period


The learner will:

  • illustrate urban, suburban and rural areas.

  • describe attributes of the local community and attempt to classify it as urban, rural or suburban.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.

None for this lesson.


  • City Mouse & Country Mouse: A Classic Fairy Tale by Isabelle Chantellard (see Bibliographical References)

  • Butcher paper, markers, crayons

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:

Remind the students that there are many types of communities. Write the words urban area, suburb and rural area on the chalkboard. Tell the students that these are three types of communities—areas where people live and work. Define and discuss each of these terms: (urban: related to city; suburb: a residential area just outside a city; rural: related to country). Discuss and write additional words to describe each area. (Give the students an understanding of the types of buildings, businesses, people, animals, plants, setup, etc. that are characteristic of each area.) Decide as a group which characteristics best describe the area where the students live. Tell the students that you are going to read a book comparing two of these areas. Tell the students to listen for descriptions of the areas.

  • Read the story: City Mouse & Country Mouse: A Classic Fairy Tale.

  • Discuss how the mice feel about their own communities. Ask the students “Which place is better to live? Why do the mice disagree? Why do people choose to live in different areas?” Lead the students to understand that one type of community isn’t better than another, just different. People choose where to live based on their interests, abilities, needs and resources.

  • Divide the class into three groups and give each group a piece of butcher paper. Assign an area to each of the groups: urban area, suburb and rural area.

  • Talk about how to work cooperatively in groups, such as sharing, talking things out, taking turns, respecting each others’ ideas and getting everyone involved with decision making.

  • Have each group work together to illustrate their assigned area by drawing buildings, trees, crops, houses, roads, etc. characteristic of the area. Label each area clearly.

  • When students are finished, hang the three pieces of butcher paper together to make one whole community—urban, suburban and rural. Talk about how the three communities depend on each other and enjoy the resources of the other communities.


Teacher will observe student participation in discussions. The final mural project should reflect understanding of the characteristics of the different areas.

School/Home Connection:

  • Interactive Parent / Student Homework:
    Encourage students to talk to their families about which type of community they live in (in urban, rural or suburban). What characteristics do they like about the type of community in which they live? Has their family (and ancestors) always lived in this type of community? If not, when and why did they move/change?

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

None for this lesson.

Bibliographical References:

  • Chantellard, Isabelle. City Mouse & Country Mouse: A Classic Fairy Tale. Abbeville Press, Inc., 1999. ISBN: 0789205130

Lesson Developed By:

Clayton Spencer
Farwell Area Schools
Farwell Elementary School
Farwell, MI 48622


Philanthropy Framework:


Rachel, Other Raleigh, NC12/2/2010 9:47:11 AM

I think this unit is such a great idea. I'm working on my masters degree in elementary education, and we have to create a 21st-century writing literacy unit, and I thought I would base my unit off your ideas! I can't wait to teach it one day as well! Thanks for all of your creative ideas!

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