Neighborhood under construction in preschool

The process of building our own neighborhood would have to be considered one of my most favorite or at least right up there at the top of the list of favorite studies we did last year.  I will share with you what we did and why I place it so high up on my list of to dos…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

Like we do on most occasions in my classroom, we began our study with a focus on houses. We read the book How a House is Built by Gail Gibbons…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

My original thought was to focus solely on houses but houses naturally lead to neighborhoods and community…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

After reading our book about houses, we took a few minutes to look over a blueprint that I stole borrowed from my husband’s construction office…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

We talked about the different parts of the blueprint including the lines and measurements and windows and doors and other aspects, without going into too much detail, that a blueprint of a house provides for constructing a house…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

the children were then sent off to explore our centers for the morning.  At the easel, the children found rulers and pencils and highlighters to expand the idea of creating a blueprint of their own…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

I had included some drawings on the paper already to give them a place to start but the children mostly used the pencils and rulers to draw lines in various directions which I thought was great skill building work in itself…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

At the table, the children found cardboard house shapes that they were invited to personalize any way they wished…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

A slit was cut in the bottom of each house shape so a small cardboard rectangle could be placed inside the slits to help the houses stand on our large table later on…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

Every house was unique in design and included many of the different parts that we had pointed out during our circletime discussion…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

Once the children completed their houses, they took them over to the large table covered with butcher paper and stood them up.  In the mean time, two of our students got busy making roads on our butcher paper with black construction paper and chalk…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

The children used glue sticks to tack the roads down on the paper. The children worked together until the roads went all the way around our paper…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

The entire morning was an amazing sight of young children working together to build their neighborhood. From exploring the blueprint process to designing houses to building roads, the children stayed engaged and focused and continued to each work at their own pace at what they found to be the most interesting part of the process…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

Throughout the morning, the children continued to add roads and houses to our paper and then came the cars, signs, people, and animals from our block center…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

The neighborhood was left open for play and for adding more items throughout the morning…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

So  why was this unit at the top of my list? The first reason is because the children were engaged in the process and each contributed something a little different to the process. The second reason is because of the collaboration that was involved and how that collaboration truly resulted in a community that you could both feel and see…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

The third reason is because the process invited creativity, writing,  pretend play, cutting, gluing, coloring, construction, engineering, and the list of skills goes on. The fourth reason is because the entire day was rich with new words and language such as construction, elevation, blueprint, design and so on.  Finally, I loved how the process was both open ended and yet intentional. The making of the houses and roads were intentional at each center but  each center then led to the community in the middle and  was open ended in design, play, conversation, and materials….

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow on

Three Little Pigs and a DIY puppet stage by Teach Preschool

House Painting by Brick by Brick

Measure the House by Let’s Explore

H is for House from Play and Learn with Dana

 Rainbow Village Printable by Inner Child Fun

By |2013-06-28T06:00:02+00:00June 28th, 2013|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Sheri Barron June 28, 2013 at 10:56 am - Reply

    I love this idea. What a great way to introduce children to cooperation. The first week is our getting acquainted week and remembering to use our manners. I am always looking for ideas to demonstrate “good manners” rather than just to tell them “listen”, “cooperate”, etc.

  2. Sheri Barron June 28, 2013 at 11:03 am - Reply

    For those who don’t have access to blueprints, I found some on line that can be printed from pdf files. Not as neat as the real thing, but would work.

  3. Trisha June 28, 2013 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    So so so so so NEAT! I love the group cooperation and all the things you listed that went on that morning. Thank you for this amazing idea! Did you choose the two children to make the roads or did it just end up that way? If you did choose them, did the other children get upset? The reason I ask is because sometimes it seems like they all want to do EVERYTHING:) Thanks!

  4. Heidi Butkus June 28, 2013 at 6:58 pm - Reply

    The little neighborhood that they built is absolutely adorable! Love it! Have you tried using Google Earth with them? My students loved watching us “fly” from our school down to the street level view, and then to as many of their homes as we had time to “visit.” Then we zoomed out to see our town, and then our state, and then our country. It was very meaningful for them! It would be especially great if you project it for them. I did a little blog post about it here:

  5. Lynn Witt June 28, 2013 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    To create our our “tadpole town” buildings, I covered old shoe, cereal and cracker boxes with white butcher paper. My students loved drawing windows and doors on the boxes and creating a 3-D version of buildings. They created a movie theater, car wash, hotel and school!
    We alos made blueprints of the rooms in our own houses, using use blue construction paper and a white crayon to draw. (remember, old blue prints actually were on blue paper) We posted our “blueprints” on the bulletin board, under the title “Construction in progress” Loved this unit of study!

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