Urban Planning Teacher Resources

What makes a city successful? Urban planning and design is the key to a safe and sustainable city that maintains a stable population. As you plan a unit on urban planning, check out Lesson Planet’s teacher-curated resources that make a perfect addition to your social studies curriculum.

Start out with a video on building the ideal city, or another video that puts an environmentalist lens to living in a tightly packed city versus in a neighborhood of suburban sprawl. Elementary learners can apply the themes from Lorinda Bryan Cauley’s Country Mouse City Mouse to a lesson that compares images from urban cities and rural towns.

High schoolers work on critical thinking with a lesson that studies the changes of New York City throughout the 20th century, or a project-based learning experience that explores the possibility of green urbanism and its potentially positive impact on democracy and community citizenship. Additionally, they can explore green infrastructure solutions with a stormwater runoff design plan.

The future comes closer with every new school day, and with some great teaching (and high-quality resources from Lesson Planet!), your students will be ready to greet it!

Showing 1 - 24 of 51 resources
Lesson Planet

Becoming Us: Borderlands

For Teachers 8th - 11th Standards
Three case studies make up a unit the looks at the power contentions and exchanges in the borderlands that have shaped the United States. The first case study focuses on creating the US southern border and the experiences of people...
Lesson Planet

Architecture: It's Elementary!—Fifth Grade

For Teachers 4th - 8th Standards
Young citizens construct an understanding of urban planning in this cross-curricular unit. Covering every aspect of city development from the political, economic, and social influences to sustainable building practices, this 10-lesson...
Lesson Planet

Design for Social Justice

For Teachers 9th - 12th
High schoolers create a solution to a social justice problem within their community. In this urban planning lesson, students read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines. High schoolers then...
Lesson Planet

Simulated Urban Planning

For Teachers 12th
Twelfth graders explore how the villages and cities in which they live reflect the culture, human needs, values and ideals of their citizens.  In this geography lesson, 12th graders create plans for an ideal city.  Students reflect on...
Lesson Planet

Volcanoes and Urban Planning

For Teachers 9th - 12th
Students analyze satellite image data of Volcan Villarica. In this earth science lesson, students identify dangerous areas surrounding the volcano. They propose a new safe location for the town.
Lesson Planet

Simulation: Urban Planning for An Ancient Mayan City

For Teachers 5th - 8th
Young scholars participate in the simulation of planning an ancient Mayan city. In this urban planning lesson, students role play as citizens of an Mayan city. They act out their roles in a classroom that has been rearranged to simulate...
1 In 1 Collection 4:13
Lesson Planet

Let's Build a City

For Students 3rd - 8th Standards
Explore the concept of engineering through urban planning with a video that strives to answer the question, "How can we use engineering to design a city that is safe, healthy, sustainable, and fun to live in?" Additionally, future...
Lesson Planet

2015 AP® Environmental Science Free-Response Questions

For Students 10th - 12th Standards
Less than eight percent of AP Environmental Science test takers earn the highest score possible. Help scholars improve their scores by using actual test questions on water quality and urban planning before reading sample responses that...
Lesson Planet

Changes in a City Over Time

For Teachers 2nd - 6th Standards
Investigate the growth and development of New York City with the final lesson in this four-part series on skyscrapers. Learners first explore the concept of urban growth by looking closely at a series of three paintings made of Wall...
Lesson Planet

Kid City, USA

For Teachers 3rd - 6th
What a model community would look like? Get your kids talking with an activity that allows them to create their own town. After printing out a "fold out village," groups of students use a variety of resources to help them build an actual...
Lesson Planet

Monitoring Urban Sprawl

For Teachers 8th
Eighth graders survey their classmates about changes in their school. In this earth science lesson, 8th graders predict future population in the city. They discuss why this process is important in urban planning.
Lesson Planet

The Urban Explosion

For Teachers 5th - 8th
Students investigate the uncontrolled development of the world's major cities. They define key vocabulary terms, view and discuss video excerpts, and complete a project that involves drawing a "perfect city," developing a plan to...
Lesson Planet

Create a City: An Urban Planning Exercise

For Teachers 6th - 8th
Students explore the effects of population growth in Arizona.  In this history instructional activity, students work in small groups to create a "perfect" city. Activities include examining the Arizona census results then discussing the...
Lesson Planet

Firefighting and Community in Colonial America

For Teachers 9th - 12th
Students view two unknown historical objects and try to identify their function by looking at and asking questions of their appearance and function. They use critical thinking skills to view a number of images and objects. They make...
Lesson Planet

Urban Planning: Plan a City

For Teachers 5th - 9th
Students analyze the concept of urbanization by planning the placement of some of the major urban/suburban features that make up most cities. They arrange the cultural features to benefit the people who live there, and maintain respect...
Lesson Planet

Population Growth and Urban Planning

For Teachers 9th - 12th
Students discuss the following terms and their definitions: zero population growth, population density, demographics, urban sprawl, census, immigration, migration, infrastructure, population booms, megacities, birthrate, death rate,...
Lesson Planet

Areas in a City

For Students 7th - 8th
In this areas in a city worksheet, students complete the chart by writing in parts of a city that are residential, commercial or industrial.
Lesson Planet

Applied Science- Built environment Lab (Trains)

For Teachers 2nd - 5th
Students examine transportation. For this train design lesson, students study how trains work and how to efficiently design a track by working with an electric train set. As a class they compare various types of trains and work...
Lesson Planet

Your Environment, Your Health: Runoff, Impervious Surfaces, and Smart Development

For Teachers 6th - 8th Standards
Can a sidewalk increase the amount of pollution in local streams? Scholars learn the answer to this question though research and experimentation in the fifth unit in the six-part series. Pupils study runoff, impervious surfaces, and the...
Lesson Planet

Urban Communities

For Teachers 2nd - 3rd Standards
Urban communities are the focus of a series of lessons created to meet specific needs using differentiated instruction. A pre-assessment designates scholars into three groups based on their ability level. Small groups take part in...
2 In 2 Collections
Lesson Planet

Borders and Community: Early 20th Century Chicago Neighborhoods and Ethnic Enclaves

For Teachers 8th - 11th Standards
Chicago is one city, four neighborhoods, and countless nationalities. The lesson explores the ethnic division of Chicago in the early twentieth century. Academics read primary sources, analyze maps, and tour an online exhibit to...
2:36
Lesson Planet

How to Build a Better City

For Students 6th - 12th Standards
Think you're helping the environment by living in the suburbs rather than the city? Think again! Young scientists examine the effects of urban sprawl in a video that compares the environmental advantages of closely packed city life to...
Lesson Planet

2017 AP® Human Geography Free-Response Questions

For Students 10th - 12th Standards
How have urban planners tried to attract people to cities? What can be done about booming birth rates in some parts of the world? How does a country's political structure affect the well being of its people? Scholars investigate these...
Lesson Planet

Chicago: Choices and Changes

For Teachers 2nd - 4th
Chicago, a city that is ever changing. A thought-provoking lesson, geared toward third-grade social studies, explains how the city of Chicago has changed over time. It discusses important leaders to the founding of the city, like Daniel...

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