What does “community” mean? What does it take to make a community? How familiar are children with the people, places, and things in the community in which they live? As children enter the Community Area, they are immediately drawn to the vast faux asphalt and grass flooring upon which they will learn how people live and work together to “build” a community.

Children will put on a blaze orange construction worker vest and use open-ended materials and pre-made block buildings to construct their own version of a neighborhood. The realistically designed flooring will inspire them to build a quaint tiny town or bustling urban metropolis. As their imaginations explore the “wants” of the neighborhood—parks, sports areas, zoos, or houses, for example—they will also learn what the “needs” of communities are—hospitals, fire stations, schools, banks, grocery stores, etc. As children work together they will build their own neighborhood with its own street signs and crosswalks, libraries, schools, hospitals, Stripes—even a Pizza Hut or Whataburger!—as they learn about different kinds of environmental prints and signs.

The budding civil engineers will also learn about the “who” that communities need to keep the community safe, clean, and serviceable. Using open-ended questions and guided discussion, children learn about the “helpers” in the community including police officers, fire fighters, teachers, bus drivers, doctors, nurses, and other service industry careers. As children construct their playgrounds, houses, buildings, and neighborhoods, they will determine which “helpers” are needed to support their community and what roles they play in the lives of community members.

Children will be captivated by the brightly colored cars, trucks, and trains that are scattered around the room and by the helicopters, hot air balloons, and airplanes that are suspended from the ceiling. As they zoom around the room with colorful props and tactile materials, children will use their imaginations to create and explore their very own corner of the world!