Place as a Mirror of Self and Community

Students will understand difference and community by exploring a special place in their lives. 
Grade Level

  • Students will identify a geographic place of importance to them and/or their family.
  • Students will share why this place has prominence in their lives.
  • Students will summarize what many different places have in common to those who hold them dear.
  • One Special Places Handout for each student
  • A world map for the extension activity


We all come from somewhere. Place is prominent in all of our lives, whether it’s the place we sleep, the home we reside in, the street we live on, the section of the city we are from, the state we call our own or the country of our grandparents. In this lesson, students will share an important place in their lives as a way to bond with their peers.



It is often best for teachers to model what they require students to do, especially in these first days of school when the classroom community is just getting to know each other.

In this lesson, the teacher takes the first risk by sharing several stories of places that are important to him/her. This is most effective if the teacher takes the time to write these stories out and read them. Understanding that children come from various socio-economic situations and that some students are homeless, vary your examples so that they include places in nature, buildings, schools, cities, states, geographic areas or countries.

Inform students that they’re simply going to identify several places that hold prominence in their lives or their families’ lives. Give each student a copy of the Special Places Handout and have him or her fill out the top half silently. Walk around the room, guiding students who might have difficulty.

As students finish the top part of the handout, have them identify one place that feels the most important to them. Ask them to fill out the bottom half of the Special Places Handout.

Have students share their special place in small groups of four. Then have students switch partners and form a new group of four to do a second share. These smaller groups will feel less risky for students opening up to their fellow students in the beginning days of class. Do these small groups as many times as you like, or until students begin to lose interest/focus.

  • Bring the class together and have a few students volunteer to share their special place with the entire class.
  • Guide students in reflecting on what all of our special places might have in common. Answers will vary, but may include things like nature, family, place of birth, home country, etc.
  • Finally, ask students to come up with a general statement that answers the thought of how these many different places say something collectively about the class as a whole.


Extension Activity

Get a local and/or world map so that students can put a stickpin on the location of their special place. Have students look at this visual representation and reflect on what it might tell the class about itself. Encourage students to bring in photographs of themselves and/or their family in this special place and put them around the map. This will develop a sense that your classroom is a special place as well.