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What Is a Green Space? (Green Spaces #1)

Date: Sep 30, 2021
Duration: 45 minutes
Grades: 3rd, 4th, 5th
Subjects: Social Studies, English Language Arts, Interdisciplinary, Justice
Format: Google Slides

This lesson introduces the idea of green spaces to students. 

Step 1 - Inquire: Students generate ideas in response to the question "What is a green space?" Students then watch a read aloud video of the book Sofia Valdez, Future Prez

Step 2 - Investigate: Students learn the definition of green space and explore their neighborhood using Google Maps or Google Earth. 

Step 3 - Inspire: Students design their own "perfect green space." 

Accompanying Teaching Materials

10 minutes
  • Students turn and talk about the guiding question "When you hear the words 'green space,' what do you think of?"
  • Students watch a read aloud video of the book Sofia Valdez, Future Prez.
15 minutes
  • Teacher shares the EPA definition of green space and gives students think time to create a kid-friendly definition of green space.
  • Teacher asks for student definitions of green space.
  • Students think about the green spaces in their school and community.
  • Teacher uses Google Maps to project the area around their school.
    • Students think, notice, and wonder about the green spaces in their community.
    • Students count the green spaces in their community and share their experiences with them.
  • Optional activity: Teacher takes students on a campus walkthrough while students record the location of green spaces. Upon returning to the classroom, students help the teacher color in the green spaces on a blank school map similar to Google Maps.
20 minutes
  • Teacher leads students in reflecting on Sofia Valdez, Future Prez.
    • What did Sofia do to create a green space in her community?
    • What can YOU do to create a green space in YOUR community? Or at your school?
  • Students create their own perfect green space on a sheet of paper.
  • Students should include:
    • Land that is partly or completely covered in hardscape (roads, parking lots, rooftops, etc.)
    • Grass, trees, shrubs, or other vegetation.
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson creates a collaborative learning environment for students as an introduction to green spaces and how to create more green spaces.
  • This lesson features kinesthetic learning if teachers walk with their students around their school.
  • Students will develop a strong connection to self and community through the read aloud of Sofia Valdez, Future Prez.
  • This lesson features excellent vocabulary development.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This is lesson 1 of 6 in our 3rd-5th grade Green Spaces unit.
  • Identify the green spaces on your campus on your own before introducing this lesson to your class to make sure that you have accounted for all the green spaces.


  • Think-pair-share during read aloud where students can make predictions or answer questions.
  • You can pause the read aloud before the text is read for students to make observations and predictions about the story.
  • Groups of students with mixed abilities can collaborate on their green spaces map.
  • Possible extension: Do a campus tour and have students take notes on green spaces they observe.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 5-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.


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