Most kids are egocentric. Rather than just thinking about themselves, you can teach them community and social responsibility through various activities and strategies. Dive into building a better community right now. Learn how to explain community to a child through fun projects.
What Does Community Mean for Kids?
Community is an advanced concept that can be hard for kids to understand. Why? Because working together and helping others are concepts kids are just beginning to learn. Community is also a vast word with several types to understand, making it even more complicated. In its most basic sense, a community is a group of people living in the same area or neighborhood working to help each other. Just a few of the communities you might explain to kids include:
- Social community - the community of your peers you have at school
- Country community - being a citizen of a larger country like the U.S., with similar rules and values
- Global community - countries that band together
- Urban community - lots of people living in a small area or neighborhood like Chicago or New York City
- Suburban community - small cities or villages with fewer people living in an area
- Rural community - homes are spread apart, living in the country
When you begin talking about what a community is, it can be easiest to start your explanation by discussing your own community and those who help run it, like librarians, police officers, and firefighters. To explore community a little further, check out these activities that dive into what a community means.
Early Elementary: Community Projects for Preschoolers and Kindergarteners
When it comes to what community means for kids, small kids have a hard time seeing beyond their wants and needs. Working together is a complex concept for them to understand. Therefore, they need to see it to believe it. Teach them community responsibility by first teaching them how important it is to work together and build character. Most of all, they need to understand that even when they complete their own task, they should help their friends.
Seek and Find
For this activity, you are going to need:
- 10-20 items (stickers, pencils, small toys, etc.) that are hidden.
- Laminated cards with each different item.
Once you have the supplies, playing this activity is pretty simple; just follow these directions.
- Select one kid and give them three items to find.
- Time how long it takes them to find the items.
- Give a group of three kids three items to find. Tell them to work together to find all the items.
- Time how long it takes them to find the items. The time spent should be shorter.
- Use larger groups, have them find three items, and time them.
- Once all the items are found, show the kids how it was easier to find the items more quickly when they worked together.
What the Activity Teaches
Use this to point out how the more a community works together, the faster things can happen, just like in the game. The visual of the shorter time on the stopwatch to find the objects when more people helped, can illustrate that the more we work together, the more change can happen.
Community Projects for Kids: Elementary: 1st to 3rd Graders
To answer the question: "what does community mean for kids?" you need to start diving a little deeper in elementary. Elementary school children begin to understand the importance of responsibility and teamwork. Now, you need to show them how they can help others. Many children might think they can't do anything themselves because they are too small, but these activities can show them ways to help their community. It will also make them conscious of the different people within a community that might be in need.
Create a Park
Tell your students that they will create a park to help out the needy in their community. Not only will this park be for the homeless, but kids with no money, disabled kids, veterans, the elderly, etc. How would they create the park so that it can benefit all these people?
- Split the kids into groups of three to five members and give them a poster board and markers.
- Allow them to work together to create a design for their park.
- When completed, ask them about the different components of their park and how it will be beneficial.
This will get kids thinking about ways to help the community and the different people in the community who might need assistance. It works because they have to take the time to think critically about all the different people and their needs.
For this activity, you're going to need construction paper and markers.
- Kids will use construction paper and markers to create a card for someone in their community. Maybe it is the cashier at the grocery store or the mayor.
- They should design the card for that person and tell them why they are essential to the community and how much they appreciate them.
This activity gets kids thinking about everyone in the community and why each person is important. It also helps them discover how each person helps the community as a whole. If possible, the kids should give their cards to the intended recipients.
Community Projects for Late Elementary and Middle School: Grades 4 to 8
By this age, many kids have a clear understanding of what their community is. They might also know some of the different problems happening in their community. So, you want to focus on actions that kids can do to make a change or better their community. Therefore, they need to understand the democratic process and why participation is important to make a difference.
The Difference a Day Makes
Prior to starting this activity, you need to discuss the different aspects of a powerful role in your community. It might be the mayor or town leader. Discuss what that person does, what they must consider, how they can change the community, and more. After kids have a clear understanding, you'll want to:
- Have students imagine that they are the leader for a day.
- Kids need to think about the rules and guidelines they must follow, the different people in the community, etc.
- Now they should write down the changes they would make and why those changes would help the community. They might even think of different programs they would enact and why.
- They should also rate the changes they would make by level of importance. What is the biggest problem and top priority?
- Have students present the changes they would make and why.
Why the Strategy Works
This strategy helps kids think about their community, what might be wrong, and ways they might be able to fix it. They will also see how a person can make changes for the betterment of the entire community.
How to Explain Community to a Child
We are all responsible for making our lives and community better. Kids need to learn humility and share responsibility with their neighbors. Use these strategies to show kids of all ages that it only takes one person to help inspire a group of people to make a change.