Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Welcome to Our Town!

I don't know about you, but I have seen our social studies block shrink little-by-little until there's almost no time left in the day for this important subject. It's so sad that our kids are going to grow up knowing very little about the society in which they live. We don't even have a social studies curriculum this year. No student books, no teacher manual, no materials at all actually. But that's not necessarily a bad thing... Sometimes we teachers come up with the best materials of all.

So, I recently went on a mission to find something that I could use for social studies. Something fun, something engaging, something that would get all of the important information across in the little time we have. I didn't want worksheets or boring reading passages. I wanted the kids to be involved. Then, right when I was about to give up, I found something called TownBuilder and I couldn't be happier!

TownBuilder is a wonderful year-long curriculum developed by Debbie Bryant. I do not know Debbie personally and she didn't ask me to review her product. I just love it so much that I think it deserves a spot on my blog. TownBuilder takes all of the social studies strands and integrates them into a class project in which you and your students will build a town from scratch! Starting with a large map, your town will grow from unsettled land into a modern town. Along the way, your students will learn about map skills, landforms, natural resources, needs and wants, government, civics, culture, and more!

Debbie based the unit on Ohio's social studies standards which is where she lives. I am in Florida and was worried that it wouldn't all match up. This turned out to be no problem at all. As my class has begun building our town, I have added in explorers and Native Americans when appropriate. In fact, it has fit in perfectly. When explorers came to our land, it was the perfect opportunity to talk about the tribes already settled in the area and what that would mean for them and the pioneers.

We're now ready to start settling in. Earlier this week, my students practiced their listening and speaking skills by debating whether we should build our town in the east or the west. They had to consider the land, the resources available, and where the native American tribes are already settled. I was really impressed by the thoughtful opinions the kids expressed. After the debate, we took a vote and have decided to start our town in the east. They are very excited! Most of all, they are highly engaged and interested in learning.

Go ahead and check out Debbie's TownBuilder pack for yourself! Here are a few pictures of what it's like. 

This is the large map and how it progresses from unsettled land to a modern town...

Here is the student journal...

and the cover of the TownBuilder program...

Thanks, Debbie, for developing this awesome program!!


  1. This project is so awesome! It includes lessons that will help prepare students for their later Social Studies classes, and is so engaging, students will love Social Studies once their town is built!

  2. I am enjoying this unit with my 1st and 2nd grade class as well! I must say that our town is not quite as developed as yours yet though. I do have a curriculum that I have to follow, so I have adapted the project to fit the needs of my class. You can see my blog post about it here

    -Beach Teacher
    Primary Classrooms are Oceans of Fun