This challenge focuses on students personal connections to different features in the community. Begin by drawing attention to the kinds of features in a community by reading aloud a book on this theme (e.g., On the Town: A Community Adventure by Judith Casely, Franklin's Neighbourhood by Paulette Bourgeois or Judith Viorst's Alexander, Who's Not (Do you hear me? I mean it!) Going to Move). Invite students to raise their hand every time they hear or see an example of something in the community. Record and cluster their ideas under four headingspeople, places, activities, things (do not label the categories at this point). After finishing the story, draw a circle around each category and ask students to find a common theme in each grouping. Help students see that a community is made up of people, places, activities and things. Invite students to identify which features in the lists are present in their own community and to add other features that are not already on the lists. Encourage students to look for additional community features on their way home from school (e.g., firefighters, soccer game, swings in a park, forests).
Introduce the idea that we have personal connections to certain community features (such as our home and school). Illustrate a range of your personal links to the community by showing artifacts associated with each feature (e.g., a T-shirt with a community logo, pictures of buildings you frequent, a leaf from the field where you walk your dog, a napkin from your favourite restaurant). Explain that your identity (how you see yourself) is influenced by the community features (its people, activities, things and places) that arouse the strongest feelings within you.
Invite students to create a visual record of their strongest attachments to the community. When introducing this idea, be sensitive to students who are new to the community or who may not have positive feelings toward the community. In such cases, change the focus to a newcomer's former community or to a location outside of the community that holds a strong positive association for the student. Propose that students, individually or with partners, bring in eight to 10 artifacts (or drawings of artifacts) to share (e.g., photos, brochures, post cards, menus, ticket stubs) that represent links they have with the community. It may be helpful to send home a letter to parents or guardians describing the project and eliciting their help in finding artifacts. Be sensitive to the possibility that some students and families may find this task difficult or may be concerned about sharing objects with great personal or cultural significance. Pairing students or making it a group project may alleviate some of these worries. Encourage students to substitute drawings or photographs for objects that are of special significance or are large.
Provide each student (or group) with a piece of poster-board upon which they can paste their objects. Direct student to arrange the objects around the central title "My (Our) Community Links." Invite students to create a web showing their connections to the community features, using thick lines to join the "strongest links" and regular lines for "other links" to their community features. Discuss the criteria for strong links (e.g., features they visit or things that they do often, they know well, they really like) and "other links" (e.g., features they do or visit less frequently, know less about, they like somewhat). Share the completed webs with the class and, perhaps, with parents.