Parents and Educators: find resources for at-home and distance learning

Public Spaces

What is sustainability?
How can people create the right living landscape for their region?
How do living landscapes benefit the environment where you live?
100 minutes

1 / 2
Arts, Civics and Government, Environmental Education

In this lesson, students explore the damaging effects of graffiti on public spaces as well as the value sanctioned public art can bring to a community. They view a presentation in which they see several powerful pictures of both and assess how they feel in response to each. Then they share photos of their favorite public spaces and see how they feel about those spaces after classmates cover them with graffiti. In the second session, students learn that the difference between sanctioned public art and graffiti is respect. They explore the concept of respect and then work together to create a mural for the school to encourage the school community to respect public spaces.

165 minutes

7 / 8
Environmental Education, Science

This three-part lesson begins with a video that encourages students to focus not on the fact that human activities are leading to massive extinctions of organisms (which is depressing!), but rather on how we can better motivate ourselves as individuals and as a society to improve the situation. If we spend more time in nature—wherever we live—we as a species can learn to do a better job of protecting other species. Students come to understand why it's important to protect biodiversity on Earth and learn some essential vocabulary related to biodiversity. Then they visit a nearby natural area and conduct a field study of three types of organisms: vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants/fungi. Student teams then put together a field report to document what they observed, and they estimate the biodiversity index of the area they studied. Armed with this data and the richness of their outdoor experience, students develop a plan to maintain or even increase biodiversity in their neighborhood.

380 minutes

Kindergarten / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8
Reading or Language Arts

Developing a sense of place is one piece of the puzzle in making our schools with a focus on sustainability.
– David Sobel, Mapmaking with Children (1998)

In this series of activities, students reflect on their relationship with their community and how their place contributes to the health and safety of all citizens. By completing various mapping and special place reflection activities, students define their neighborhood and community. Students gain a sense of where they live, are prepared to create tools for evaluating their neighborhood, and have the ability to identify problems or concerns that need improvement.

Essential Questions

  • What is special about my place?
  • Why should I care about our place?
  • How am I connected to my place?
  • What can I do to make my place safer and healthier for all citizens?
What types of public spaces exist in my area?
What is natural and cultural heritage?
What are some characteristics of a great public space?
Who owns a public space?