The following lesson engages young children in ideas and concepts surrounding community with an exploration of the varied factors that influence how people live, the roles of adults and children, and the interaction of people who live and work within a community.


Students will:

  • describe the functions and features of community in society.
  • compare and contrast one's own community with those of other children around the world.
  • participate in classroom jobs that contribute to the classroom community.
  • locate the country of Cape Verde, comparing and contrasting its physical and cultural features to those of the United States.


  • beliefs: ideas and viewpoints one perceives to be true
  • citizen: an inhabitant of a certain place
  • community: a group of people who share common interests, beliefs, and/or cultural background
  • cooperation: working together with others
  • common good: that which contributes or supports what is optimal for the majority
  • neighbor: the person or people who reside near you
  • rules: formal or informal standards that regulate human behavior
  • traditions: beliefs or customs shared among generations
  • sharing: the act of giving and receiving 



Note to teacher: Prior to teaching this lesson, gather library books on island communities and Cape Verde as a nation.

  1. Read aloud the letter from Madelena, a young girl who lives in the island country of Cape Verde located off the Western coast of Africa. Explain that she is a child who lives in another country in a part of the world that is far away.
  2. Display and locate Cape Verde on a map, globe, or digital resource. Highlight geographic concepts, including the concept of an archipelago.
  3. Discuss: Background connections to lesson on family, school, and community:
    • Family: Families are closely knit and the role of the extended family is very important in Cape Verde; in many cases family members beyond parents and children may live together in the same house or village.
    • School: Note that in Cape Verde all children go to school and that the literacy rate is higher than many other developing nations of its type and size.
    • Community: The philosophy that it takes a village to raise a child is in place in many communities in Cape Verde as adults may correct or interact with children in a parental way even if they are not related.
  1. Explain that we will learn more about Madelena and children just like her, as well as share with Madelena what is special about our community, answering the following questions:
    • What makes my school and community unique?
    • What activities do children and adults like to do in our community? Work and play?
    • What is important to the school? To the community?
    • How do we interact and share with each other in our community?
  1. Create a concept map on community. Explain that community may be defined in many ways but that our class will create a shared definition of community
  2. Using ideas generated from the reading and class discussion, place on the concept map related subtopics such as common habitat, sharing, communal, neighborhood, traditions, cooperation, citizen, and sense of belonging. For younger learners, choose topics such as where we live, where children go to school, where neighbors help one another, etc.
  3. During the brainstorming, reinforce different types of communities, such as classroom and school communities and neighborhood communities. All types of communities, however, have similar characteristics or features that make them work.
  4. Lastly, create a shared class definition of community. Have students to work in small groups to write one or two sentences or simple words describing a community. Afterwards, write each group's definition or list of words on the board. As a class, create an agreed-upon definition of community using the words or sentences chosen by the students.
    Examples include:
    • A group of people with common interests living in the same area.
    • People who have a shared history and who work together on common goals.
    • A group of people living, working, or going to school in the same area.
    • A group of neighbors, children, or people.
    • People who are alike in many ways living and working together.
  1. Afterwards, discuss: Do communities change or do they stay the same? How do you know? Discuss with your class some examples of how their own community (e.g., school or neighborhood) has changed over the years. Highlight changes such as construction, a new teacher or principal, a new neighbor, etc.
  2. Ask students to draw a picture of themselves in the community and/or to write one or two sentences about what makes their community special. Using these sentences and drawings as ideas, write a letter from the class to Madelena answering some of the questions listed in #4.
  3. Encourage students to consider how they can contribute positively to the functioning of their school and larger community.
  4. As a class, determine roles that students play in the classroom community. Ideas include:
    • Classroom greeter
    • Line leader
    • Mail distributor 

Frameworks and standards

Enduring understandings

  • Communities are comprised of individuals and families, and they serve many functions, including providing a sense of belonging and security.
  • Communities are affected by their geography, history, and societal events.

Essential questions

  • What is a community? What purpose does it serve?
  • How is my community unique? Similar to or different from other communities?
  • What are the community's responsibilities to its citizens?
  • What are the roles within a community? What impact do individuals have within the community?
  • Do communities change or do they stay the same? How do you know?


National Association for the Education of Young Children

  • 2.B.05 Areas of Development: Social- Emotional Development-pro-social behavior
  • 2.L.03 Cognitive Development: Social Studies-understanding diversity
  • 2.L.05 Cognitive Development: Social Studies-community
  • 2.L.09 Cognitive Development: Social Studies-contribute to classroom and community

National Social Studies Standards

  • Thematic Strand I: Culture
  • Thematic Strand IV: Individual Development & Identity
  • Thematic Strand V: Individuals, Groups, &Institutions

National Geography Standards

  • Essential Element 1: The World in Spatial Terms

National Standards for Civics and Government

  • Content Standard 1.E.1 Purposes of rules and laws

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy

  • Reading: Informational Text
    • Key Ideas and Details: describe connections; group reading
  • Writing
    • Text Types and Purposes: compose informative texts; narratives
    • Research to Build and Present Knowledge: recall information from experiences
  • Speaking and Listening
    • Comprehension and Collaboration: explain ideas and understanding; respond to specific questions
    • Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: describe familiar people places things and events; add drawings or visual displays for detail
  • Language
    • Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: use words and phrases acquired through reading and being read to 


  • If your classroom has connected to a Peace Corps Volunteer, discuss your Volunteer's experiences learning about communities in his or her host country. Compare and contrast key features, highlighting characteristics of communities, community leaders, and the way that those within the community interacts and helps each other.
  • Have your students research and create a list of their community's elected leaders and discuss each person's role.
  • Identify ways you and your class can contribute to your community by doing a service project.
  • Have the students create a map of their community. This map should highlight their home, school, and other important features. 

Related Lessons

View All
Read More
Read More
Read More