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How to Build a Model Town for an Elementary School Project

by Erica Loop

According to the National Council for Social Studies, elementary school social studies lessons include economic, political, cultural and environmental issues of societies. Lessons on geography and society that feature towns and cities are often part of the grade school social studies curriculum. If your child's teacher assigns an at-home project to build a model town, don't run screaming in fear at the prospect of helping her. Building a model town with your elementary schooler can be an entertaining -- and hopefully educational -- way to spend some time together working towards a learning goal.

Choose a town to build. If your child has an assigned town, such as her home town or a historical village, you will need to stick with what the teacher expects. If the project is more open, brainstorm ideas such as towns near a favorite city, a fun vacation spot or even an imaginary place from a book or a movie.

Check the specs for the town. Look at a map for real-life towns. Note the number, size and shapes of streets. If possible, take a trip around the town to look at the types of architecture such as houses, apartment buildings, stores and community spaces.

Unfold a large-sized box. Flatten the box to create a cardboard base for the town.

Draw out a plan for the town on the cardboard with the markers. Designate spaces for streets, buildings and green spaces. Mark the spaces by writing the word on cardboard, such as "park" or "Smith Street."

Paint the grassy areas with green tempera and the streets with gray or black. Add sidewalks, driveways or blue water areas such as pools, rivers and lakes.

Transform thoroughly washed and dried lunch-sized milk cartons into houses. Cover the cartons with construction paper or paint. Add details such as windows and doors with more paint or markers. Create apartment buildings or offices with shoe boxes, then tape the lid to the rest of the box. Turn the box on one of the short sides to make it taller. Similar to the houses, cover the box with paper or paint it.

Set the buildings in their designated spaces. Add plant life such as trees and bushes with tissue paper and twigs. Press a dime-sized ball of brown clay onto the cardboard base for each tree that you want to make. Stick a twig into the clay, using a dab of glue to secure it. Ball a piece of green tissue paper, gluing it to the top, to make it look leafy.

Items you will need
  • Cardboard
  • Milk cartons
  • Shoe boxes
  • Tissue paper
  • Twigs
  • Modeling clay
  • Construction paper
  • Tempera paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Clear drying school glue
  • Clear tape
  • Markers

Tip

  • Add labels to the town to show directions such as north, south, east and west as well as streets or building names.

Warnings

  • Only use non-toxic arts and crafts materials.
  • Supervise your child while she is making the model craft.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images