Rural, Urban, and Suburban Communities

Contributor: Nichole Brooker. Lesson ID: 12015

What is your neighborhood like? Do you even have a neighborhood? Different neighborhoods have different qualities, but we all have to live together. How would you like to create your own neighborhood?


People and Their Environment

Social Studies
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Does your neighborhood look like the one pictured above? Maybe your neighborhood has busier streets? Or maybe you live in the country with only a few streets? What makes all of these different neighborhoods the same?

All neighborhoods have people living together in a community.

Community and the need to connect with other people is an important aspect of life. Without human interaction and connection, life has a different meaning. Being alone and without a community is isolating and difficult. Think about being grounded to your room without any interaction for weeks at a time.

  • Wouldn't you become sad and depressed?
  • Wouldn't you yearn for human interaction?

Meaningful human interaction is the most important part of a community. Whether it be socially, medically, or in a humanitarian context, human interaction is important for the betterment of individuals as well as society as a whole. Depending on what area you live in, your community and interactions with others are impacted by your way of life, your profession, and your environment.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are two classifications for areas that people live in in the United States: rural and urban. For this lesson, suburb will also be used as a possible area where people live.

To begin, defining the three classifications of United States living is important for understanding where you live and what kinds of communities you participate in. As you learn about the following three communities, fill in the Urban, Rural and Suburban Communities graphic organizer, found in Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar.

Let's start with rural. A rural area is usually defined as farmland with a lower population than urban areas. It is usually made up of more open space and room to move. Rural is not only defined by the landscape, but also by the number of homes and people who live in the area.

An urban area is more densely populated than a rural area, and usually has more homes and often includes large cities. Examples of an urban area would be Denver, Colorado, and Chicago, Illinois. Depending on the agency defining the area, urban can mean a few different things. According to the United States Census Bureau, an urban area consists of a population of 50,000 or more people.

Finally, there are the suburbs. Look up the definition of "suburb" in your dictionary or at Be sure to write it down and get to know it so you can better understand this lesson!

The community associated with the defined living classification of urban, rural, and suburb, is tailored to the needs of that area.

For example, a community for a person living in a rural area would be different from a community for someone living in a suburb of a big city. A community for a rural area would consist of a farming co-op or a ranching society or maybe a school community. The groups of people with whom you would interact would be farther from your own home, and they would require more planning in order to participate. Consider rural communities as farmland and countryside, where houses are often miles away from each other. In order for people to come together and spend time together, they may need time in advance to plan for social events because they are far apart and often isolated.

In an urban community, people live near one another, and it is easy to coordinate and spend time together. Often times people live in apartment buildings and can easily get together and create a community for social, political, and emotional well-being. This way of living is often more conducive to creating an environment where people can feel connected and easily gather for social and supportive reasons.

A larger urban community would consist of an apartment complex or a few city blocks like Chinatown, where many people of Chinese descent live, work, and share their culture. This happens also in big cities where food is usually a catapult for social interaction and smaller communities.

When a particular group of people shares an interest or cultural similarity, that is often the bond that pulls people together and creates smaller communities within the larger ones. For example, you may be a member of the Chinatown community as a Chinese American, but you may also be a member of a book club for women who love books written about historical fiction. These two communities are completely different and have separate focuses and purposes, but that is the beauty of the many options of available communities for people who live in urban areas.

The third designation, the suburbs, are the housing clusters that are just outside the urban areas. Think of the urban area as the downtown area and the suburbs as the homes and cul-de-sacs that make up the community outside the city. Suburbs are often the areas where many people live within a few feet of one another. For example, neighborhoods are places where many parents enjoy raising their children because there are usually neighbors around for them to play with and neighborhood schools where they attend.

Suburbs usually have neighborhood libraries, community centers, and parks available for their community members, and homes are often within walking distance of stores and shops. Many suburbs are built with only about ten feet between houses so many people feel that they are too close to one another, but in order for enough houses to be built in an area, it is necessary to locate them close to each other. Another criticism of suburbs is that often times all the houses look identical or extremely similar. Having a house just like your neighbor's can feel boring, but having a familiar feel to your surroundings can help build the community around you.

  • Have you filled in the Urban, Rural and Suburban Communities graphic organizer?

With the above information, you should have enough to fill in each of the sections of the organizer. If not, go back and review the information in this section. You will get to put your new knowledge to work in the Got It? section.

  • Which type of community do you live in?
  • Do you enjoy it? Why or why not?
  • Which sounds most appealing? Least appealing?

Discuss this with your teacher or parent and get ready to explore more communities in the Got It? section.

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