Citizenship ideas for young children: Learning about your community

What is your community like?

Young children may not be able to vote, but learning about their government and community and how to improve it, leadership, making decisions and service can help them understand the world around them. These skills are not only useful in the future, but can help them now. How much do you really know about your community? What makes your community different from other communities?

Here are some activities you can do with children to discover your community.

  • Look at a map of your community online.
    • Where are the boundaries of your community? Why is it shaped the way it is?
    • What communities are next door to your own?
    • What are the biggest roads?
    • Are there any railroad tracks?
    • Are there any lakes or rivers?
    • Are there any parks?
  • Turn on the aerial photo of the online map.
    • Are the homes far apart or close together? Are the houses closer together in some places and further apart in others? Why or why not?
    • What areas on the map do you think might be used for farming?
    • Are there a lot of trees? Why or why not?
    • Are there things on the map you didn’t know about?
  • Print off an online map of the city or township where you live. Drive to different areas, park and find them on the map. Are there things you didn’t realize were there?
  • Young children often assume everyone else lives like they do. You can find a lot about a community by going to American Factfinder, which is where U.S. census data is available, and have kids compare the findings to their household. During these discussions, be sensitive to children who might be in different situations and to not attach judgement to that.
    • In the Education tab, you can find out how many kids in each grade there are where you live.
    • In the Housing tab, you can find out how many bedrooms there are in houses in your community. Some might just have one bedroom, some might have more than five. How many bedrooms are in your house? Do you have to share a room? How many people do you think might share a room?
    • Do you have a car? Do you think there are people in your community without a car? How might whether or not you have a car change how you live?
    • Do you have a bathroom and a kitchen? Do you think all homes in your community have a bathroom or a kitchen?
    • Do you speak a language other than English at home? What other languages are spoken in your community?

Take some time to learn about your community and understand the diversity around you with the children in your life.

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program help to prepare youth as positive and engaged leaders and global citizens by providing educational experiences and resources for youth interested in developing knowledge and skills in these areas. To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, civic engagement, citizenship and global/cultural programs, read our 2015 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.”

This is the latest article about citizenship activities that anyone can conduct with children. This can be done within a family, daycare setting, as part of school activities, a 4-H club or with any group working with young children.  For more citizenship ideas for young children, read the following articles:

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