Build a Diorama: Exploring Communities Project-Based Learning Unit

Exploring Communities: Build a Diorama
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Engaging Social Studies Lessons on Urban, Suburban and Rural Communities for Grade 3

Build knowledge and understanding of life in urban, suburban and rural communities, identify and compare the characteristics of these different communities, design and create a diorama for each community and explore the challenges they face. 

Your 3rd grade students will identify the characteristics and challenges of urban, suburban and rural communities. They will create a pyramid diorama of the people, animals, and things in each community. Students will also compare and contrast the different communities, reflecting on their own communities, before brainstorming ways to help their communities.

What’s Inside

Packed with fun, hands-on activities, extension and enhancement ideas, opportunities for independent and group work, and engaging inquiry-based challenges, this 52-page project-based unit comes complete with:

  • For the Teacher: Engaging social studies lessons with teacher notes, step-by-step instructions for all activities, assessment guidance, and inquiry questions.
  • For Students: A full-color Student Pack complete with all of the printables, slides, photos, and instructions students need for the activities - just print (or share) and teach!

A complete, ready-to-teach Teacher Pack that includes:

  1. Teacher versions of all the student printables with step-by-step annotations and notes for teaching informational writing;
  2. Formative and summative assessments, answer keys, and a full project rubric;
  3. Instructions and guidance for the extension activities and project enhancements;
  4. Materials and resources lists, links to articles, videos, and research, plus additional resources for lecture and presentation.


What's Included

  • Lesson Plan - Step-by-Step Project Teaching Guide
  • Milestone 1: Exploring Rural Communities
  • Milestone 2: Exploring Urban Communities
  • Milestone 3: Exploring Suburban Communities
  • Milestone 4: Comparing and Contrasting Communities
  • Milestone 5: Community Service


Teacher and Student Resources

  • Materials Needed for the Projects in this Unit 
  • Books About Communities 
  • Rural Community Notes Answer Key 
  • Urban Community Notes Answer Key 
  • Suburban Community Notes Answer Key 
  • Exploring Communities Quick Quiz
  • Exploring Communities Quick Quiz Answer Key 
  • Paragraph Writing Checklist 
  • Exploring Communities Summative Assessment 
  • Exploring Communities Summative Assessment Answer Key 
  • Exploring Communities Project Rubric
  • My Community 
  • Rural Community Notes 
  • Rural Communities 
  • Pyramid Diorama Project Guidelines 
  • Milestone #1 Inquiry Question
  • An Interesting City 
  • Urban Community Notes 
  • Urban Communities 
  • Milestone #2 Inquiry Question
  • Getting Food 
  • Suburban Community Notes 
  • Suburban Communities 
  • Milestone #3 Inquiry Question
  • Town Mouse, Country Mouse 
  • Types of Communities 
  • Our Community Cover 
  • Communities Venn Diagram 
  • Milestone #4 Inquiry Question
  • Taking Care of My Communities 
  • Milestone #5 Inquiry Question
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Lesson Plan - Exploring Communities Project Based Learning
Teacher Pack - Exploring Communities Project-Based Learning
Student Pack - Exploring Communities Project-Based Learning

This project-based learning lesson is designed to support and reinforce the concepts in a Grade 3 Social Studies unit on communities. It is built around 5 inquiry-based milestones that incorporate cross-curricular hands-on projects, formative and summative assessments, independent and group activities, and extensions.

In the course of this project-based learning unit, students will:
Build background knowledge about rural, urban and suburban communities;
Create dioramas of the people, animals and things in rural, urban and suburban communities;
Identify characteristics and challenges of each community and find out what life is like there, comparing and contrasting the different communities;
Reflect on how their own community compares to other types of communities, choose one way to help their community and explain how it would help the community.

Students will acquire necessary background knowledge of rural, urban and suburban communities as part of this project, and instructional materials for providing that background are included in the Teacher Pack. 

This project-based unit is divided into 5 milestones. The minimum suggested duration for completing this project-based unit is 5 class periods. However, the unit is completely flexible and can be lengthened or shortened as necessary or desired, based on available class time and interest level.

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