A Bird’s Eye View of a City

Grades 2 & 3

Pre-Visit Activities   |   Post-Visit Activities  |  Explanation & Notes (pdf)

New Bedford’s historic district and the panoramic view of the city’s harbor, as seen from the Museum’s observation deck, introduce students to geographic ways to describe a place. Learning standards will be met as students:

  • Observe historic buildings and sites
  • Gather geographic data to make a map
  • Increase their understanding of the interdependent relationship between location and place
  • Compare and contrast New Bedford’s geographic features to those of their own community


Pre-Visit Activities

Putting Your Feet on the Street: Conduct an informal walk around the school neighborhood. Discuss and have students describe what they see. In the classroom, ask students to draw a specific place they saw during the walk. Display their drawings in the order they were seen during the walk.

Mapping Your Classroom: Guide students in developing symbols to represent objects in their classroom. The symbols can be different colors or shapes. Make a chart of these symbols and call it a map key. Using the map key, have students draw a map of the classroom showing windows and doors, where each desk is located, objects in the room, etc. For homework, ask students to make a map, with a key, of a room at home. During the presentation of individual maps, students may guess what room is illustrated.

Picture This: Using an 8.5×11 sheet of oak tag, have students cut an opening measuring 6.5×9, thus making a frame. Taking the frames with them to the playground, have students stand in two straight lines facing each other. The students that are standing opposite become partners. The objective is for each student to fit his/her partner within the frame. In order to do this, students will discover that they need to move either closer or farther away. They can continue to “frame” by selecting objects in the playground or objects seen at a distance. As an extension, brainstorm with students about how an artist might decide what to put in a picture and what to leave out.

It All Depends on Your Perspective: A Bird’s Eye View – Ask students to imagine that they are birds flying in the sky. How would the school playground look to a flying bird? Discuss what would be seen. How might objects look different from the sky as compared to ground level? Divide the class into groups. Assign a building or landmark for each group to draw from a bird’s eye view, such as a grocery store, library, park, river, beach, etc.  A Focused View – Using either paper towel tubes or rolled up pieces of paper, students will make spyglasses. Looking through the tube, from either outside or from a window, students will focus on neighboring buildings. Noticing rooflines, windows, architectural decorations, and general details of nearby buildings, students will draw one specific detail observed and be prepared to talk about the spyglass picture in class.

Landmarks of Your School: Review with the students the term ‘compass rose,’ or direction finder, and the relationships between North, South, East and West. On a large sheet of paper, draw the outline of your school. Use a compass or the sun to identify the cardinal directions, and have the students mark them appropriately on the illustration. Break the students into four groups, and have each group identify a landmark in a particular direction near the school (playground, parking lot, sign in the front…). Make a map key for the landmarks.

The Bus Ride: Prepare your students for a visit to the Museum. Where is their school in relation to the Museum? Discuss the route the bus will take and what they might see. Suggest that students try to remember all they see from the bus as they travel to the Museum.


Post-Visit Activites

Evaluate: Help us evaluate your visit to the Museum. We are always interested in hearing from students. Guide students in a brainstorming discussion about their visit to the Museum and organize their comments in a web chart. Then have students write thank you letters to the Museum Docents using vocabulary words.

An Exhibit in the Classroom: Have each student create a postcard or poster showing a favorite landmark in New Bedford. Include the name of the landmark, its location and a brief descriptive statement. Students can think of a title for their exhibit and display their work on a bulletin board.

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