CyberMuse Teachers - Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan Activity:
Build a City of the Future!: Grade 4-6



This lesson plan introduces students to the theme of the city in art, using 19th- and 20th- century works by Canadian artists from various backgrounds. Using objects made of various materials; students will design a futuristic city.


Using expressive elements and principles of design (particularly size and scale), students will communicate their idea of an ideal future city.


Using their imagination, students will build a city block of an ideal future city.


Students will demonstrate awareness that their artwork is influenced by social, historical, and cultural contexts.

Cross Curriculum Links:

This lesson plan also explores the subject areas of History, Social Studies, Language Arts


2-3 40-minute periods

Look & Discuss

Present and discuss a selection of the 10 featured artworks in the Artwork & Artists slideshow with your class. (Tabs will provide you with information on the theme, composition, interpretation and the artist.) A downloadable Presentation that you can add to or manipulate will also help share these images in your classroom.

  • Look at the artworks with students and ask them to describe the types of city the images represent.
  • Have students discuss what elements an ideal city needs, based on their understanding of social, historical and cultural contexts. Encourage them to take inspiration from their environments and from their imagination. List those elements. (Make sure that roads, green spaces, waterways, etc. are represented.) Elements could include aspirations for the future; for example a filling station for flying cars.
  • The concepts of size and scale are important for this activity if all the ?blocks? are to fit together at the end.


  • Boxes made of various materials & various sizes
  • Modelling clay in different colours
  • 5-mm-thick, 40 x 40 cm board
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Paint

Preparation Tasks

  • Collect a variety of boxes (shoe, jewellery, VCR tapes, chocolates, etc.) from students or colleagues.
  • Pre-cut board (appliance boxes are good) into equal (40x40cm recommended) squares. Number back of boards for easy replacement at end of individual exercise.


Create Activity Image 1

On the chalkboard, sketch out a plan of your class' city of the future based on city "blocks" (40 x 40cm boards) for the number of students in the class. Be sure that each city block contains some residential and/or commercial property and 1-2 elements that are necessary to the whole city. Discuss with the class where roads and green spaces should go.

Create Activity Image 2

Distribute the "blocks" to each student. (If the blocks are numbered on the back, they will be easy to replace in their original ordered plan). Each student should know that they are including residential/commercial property and the 1-2 elements decided upon by the group.

Create Activity Image 3

Have students paint the roads, green spaces, etc. that are in the plan.

Create Activity Image 4

Ask the students to use the various materials at their disposal to create buildings and other 3-D structures. They can cut up these elements, add pieces to them, and use the modelling clay and paint. Then, using their imagination, students glue the 3-D structures that will constitute their future city onto their city "block" (board).

Create Activity Image 5

At the end, help students join the individual "blocks" to form their city of the future.

Take it Further

Ask students to describe the city block or neighborhood that they built. Have them explain what types of buildings they constructed and explain why they chose these types of buildings instead of others.

Ask students if there is anything missing from their city. Was there something they would have liked to build but could not? If so, encourage students to draw these elements and present their dream city to the class.

Assessment Guide

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Theory Criterion
How does the student?s city block demonstrate his/her understanding of size and scale?

The student uses little variety in size and doesn?t achieve a sense of scale in his/her city block.

The student incorporates structures of various sizes in his/her city block to create a sense of scale.

The student incorporates many structures of various sizes in his/her city block and creates a sense of scale that complements the other city blocks around it.

Creation Criterion
To what degree does the student apply his/her imagination when contributing to the building of an ideal future city?

The student applies little imagination to the building of an ideal future city.

The student applies imagination to the building of an ideal future city.

The student applies a lot of imagination to the building of an ideal future city.

Analysis Criterion
Does the student demonstrate an awareness of social, historical, and cultural contexts influencing his/her ideal city?

The student demonstrates little awareness of social, historical, or cultural contexts influencing his/her ideal city.

The student demonstrates awareness of social, historical, or cultural contexts influencing his/her ideal city.

The student demonstrates a thorough awareness of social, historical, or cultural contexts influencing his/her ideal city.