Renaissance in Your Backyard

Renaissance in Your Backyard lesson plan

Design the ultimate recreation facility, community center, or other new use. Help bring a rundown area of your community back to life.

  • 1.

    Look around your neighborhood. Do research about how the environment, economics, and demographics have changed. If possible, ask leaders in your community to help you identify an area in need of rehabilitation. Brainstorm possible appropriate uses with classmates.

  • 2.

    Design a useful resource for the area, such as a playground, community center, or recreation area that meets the needs of diverse residents. Make a realistic diorama to show your design inside a recycled tissue box. Here are a few ideas for preparing your display.

  • 3.

    Cut the top off the box with Crayola Scissors. Measure and cut construction paper to fit inside. Extend the space with more construction paper on the bottom of the open box if you need it.

  • 4.

    Color the paper with Crayola Twistables® to create sky and grass. Attach the background to the inside of your diorama with Crayola School Glue. Air-dry the glue.

  • 5.

    Use Crayola Model Magic® to sculpt playground equipment, railroad tracks, a picnic area, or other features of your rehabilitated area. When constructing vertical pillars, for example, cover toothpicks with Model Magic. Glue them to the base of the box. Make Model Magic or paper signs, people, and other features of your proposed Community Renaissance. Glue pieces into your diorama. Air-dry the glue.

  • 6.

    Present your recommended plans with convincing arguments about why the new usage will serve your community well. If possible, share your ideas with local decision makers.


  • LA: Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
  • LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
  • SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.
  • SS: Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.
  • VA: Select media, techniques, an processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of choices.
  • VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.


  • Students research and describe ways they can volunteer in their neighborhood. Compile a notebook of community service projects and investigate what goes in to working on each. For example, if litter in the mall parking lot is an issue, students can organize a clean-up day for the parking lot.
  • Invite a local community leader to visit with the class to discuss changes in the community over the past several years as well as needs that the community has at this time. After the meeting, students post learning to a class blog. Students also discuss if any of the items covered by the community leader are interesting for them to focus for their class project.
  • Students research volunteer service organizations such as the Peace Corps. Identify and report on the services provided, such as education, agriculture, health, environment, and small business development. Students discover the steps one must take in order to become a Peace Corps volunteer.