Create a School Project

Back to School
Blog Header for Create a School Project. Picture of book - If I Built a School with Project.

I’m so excited to share with you all one of my student’s favorite back to school activities. Each year we always spend the first few weeks of school talking about rules and expectations. Well a few years ago I decided to turn this in to more of a PBL and make it more engaging. No one wants to hear the teacher go on and on about rules and their importance. Kids tune that out and just hear blah, blah, blah. So Create a School was born – a fun and engaging way to go over rules and understand why rules are important.

Create a School Project Introduction:

Going over rules is an important part of any classroom. And, it’s something that has to be done in every class at the beginning of the year. The first few standards we typically tackle in Social Studies had to do with community, rules, etc.  So, instead of the same old boring here are the rules, here is why we follow them…Johnson Elementary was born.The kids are introduced to this project by finding out that they will be teachers at Johnson (or whatever the teacher’s last name is) Elementary.  I am the principal – Principal Johnson and they quickly become Miss ____, Mr. ____, etc.  The excitement that builds just from this announcement is amazing! Buy in happens instantly!

Last year I found this amazing book – If I Built a School that fits in perfectly for this project! This book written by Chris Van Dusen is about a boy named Jack who gets to design and create his own school. He uses his imagination and comes up with some pretty cool things – trampoline basketball courts and hover desks. This book is perfect to read to your class as your introducing the project. You can find that book on Amazon>>> HERE.

Picture of book If I Built a School - cover has a boy and a teacher on it with a school he has designed. Cover page of Create a School project.

Next, we talk about the school we’re opening and what classes our school will have. The teachers (students) get to pick what class they are teaching. We’ve had math, kindergarten, roller blading, ballet, science, cooking, Legos, Minecraft, etc.  I’m pretty flexible on what they can teach. I want them to have fun and pick something they like.  Here’s the cover page of our PBL Packet.  The Essential Question we focus on is – How do rules help people function in a community and school?

Picture of Create a School front cover with drawing of a school.

Teacher Info:

On the next page, “teachers” give more information on the class they teaching. They tell me what they picked and why. They also create a list of a few things they will be teaching in their class. Below you will see one of the Teacher Info pages for the digital version that can be used with Google Classroom™.

Picture of Digital Create a School Teacher Info page with things the teacher will teach.

Class Set-Up and Map:

Before starting this we look at a few pictures/maps of classroom online. We talk about making sure you have things you need to teach and things your students will need to learn.  “Teachers” start by brainstorming a list of things they will need to have in their classroom. Once they have finished brainstorming, they draw their classroom map on the next page.

Picture of classroom map page from Create a School Activity

Classroom Rules:

Before the “teachers” write their rules for their classroom, we research class rules. We read Officer Buckle and Gloria, read an article from ReadWorks on rules, and look at multiple examples online from many different types of classrooms. We even brainstormed a ton of rules on our circle map below. We talked too about a good number of rules. We thought 40 would be too many for kids to remember and 1 rule was not enough. So, we decided to keep the rules between 4-10.

Picture of circle map used to brainstorm classroom rules.

Group or Individual Project – School Expectations:

In addition to rules in the classroom, we talked about other places that needed rules and expectations. We decided to focus on the bathroom, hallway, playground, and lunch room. The students broke into groups of 4-5 and worked with their group on expectations for their area. They first brainstormed some ideas. Then, they came up with again 4-10 and explained why they picked them.  The last piece was presenting. Each group presented their expectations to the class. They did awesome! Great first presentation to the class.

Picture of expectations for Playground area from Back to School Activity.

Essential Question Reflection/Response:

After completing the project, students then went back to the Essential Question and explained why rules are necessary in schools and communities.

Picture of digital version of Essential Question response page.


I created the rubric below as a way to score this project.  This is our first PBL so it includes less pieces than some of our later ones, but I wanted to be able to identify how they did on each area – especially the Essential Question. Most kiddos did great! They really understood why we had rules – safety, keep things fair, etc and really enjoyed this project. I’ve also recently created a digital rubric that can be used with Google Slides™. Great for distance learning!

Digital and Printable Resource

If this sounds like a project you would like to do your kiddos, I have the resources already put together for you! There are three options…

Option #1 – Create a School – BUNDLE – Printable and Digital

Picture of cover for TPT Resource - Create a School Digital and Printable BUNDLE.

This option is great for having both a digital and printable version. With distance learning I know many people might need digital this year, but want print next year. You can find the BUNDLE >>> HERE.

Option #2 – Create a School – Digital

Picture of cover for TPT Resource - Create a School Digital.

The digital versions uses Google Slides™ and can be assigned using Google Classroom™. This is great for distance learning, virtual learning, or if you have one-to-one technology in the classroom. You can find the digital version >>> HERE.

Option #3 – Create a School – Printable

Picture of cover for TPT Resource - Create a School Printable.

The printable version is great for using in the classroom! Includes plenty of space for written response. You can find the printable version >>> HERE.

Long Pin for Create a School Project. Picture of book - If I Built a School with Project.
Previous Story
Next Story

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply

I accept the Privacy Policy