Three APA Ambassadors brought their vision for a kid-friendly city — "Kidtropolis" — to a 1st and 2nd grade classroom in Nevada, Iowa, in March 2017.
Mindy Moore, AICP, Leanne Harter, and Jennifer Wiltgen, AICP, created the classroom exercise using material from the “Metropolis” curriculum written by John Martoni.
They began by asking the children to envision what a “kid-friendly” and “green” city meant to them and the qualities it needed to have. The students identified several qualities of their ideal city, among them were “lots of flowers,” “fun,” and “places to play.”
After talking about what makes a city great, Mindy Moore went over the different components of a city based on Kevin Lynch’s book Image of the City. She began by speaking with the children about edges of a city, both human-made and natural.
APA Ambassador Mindy Moore, AICP, with 1st and 2nd graders. Photo courtesy Mindy Moore, AICP.
After discussing what edges were, the children were given individual pieces of paper to begin drawing their city, giving it a name, creating a legend, and drawing a north arrow.
Then they used what they had just learned to begin drawing their edges, using mountains, oceans, forests, and walls. APA Ambassadors Leanne and Jennifer assisted the different groups of children with drawing their maps and helping them understand what they meant.
For each component that followed — Districts, Public Spaces, Landmarks, and Transportation — Mindy went over the definitions with the children. She would sometimes relate the different elements to popular kid’s movies to better associate them to what the children were interested in. As an example, she related Districts to the popular movie Zootopia, which had clearly defined districts for different types of animals such as “Sahara Square” and “Tundratown.”
APA Ambassador Jennifer Wiltgen, AICP, helping a student visualize Kidtropolis. Photo by Mindy Moore, AICP.
After going through all the different elements of a city, the kids finally developed their very own kid-friendly and green city. For some this meant traveling by gondola or teleporters, for others it meant having a giant ruby or soccer ball for their landmark.
Regardless of what defined their very own city, the children had a great time thinking about the different components of what makes a city great. As ambassadors, it was rewarding to see how quickly the children learned and their excitement for planning.
Top image: Kids drawing their kid-friendly Green City. Photo courtesy Mindy Moore, AICP.
About the Author
Mindy Moore, AICP, is a planner with Snyder & Associates, Inc. in Ankeny, Iowa.