CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: What Are the Suburbs?

Social Studies, Geography
1 lesson
To identify the distinguishing characteristics of suburbs
In this introductory activity, students will explore the characteristics that distinguish suburbs from other types of communities in Canada.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Write the word suburb on the board and ask for a definition. Ask students if they live in a suburb or if they know anyone who does. Discuss the various types of places in which people in Canada live: cities, towns, villages, suburbs, rural areas. Ask: Have you ever thought about what distinguishes suburbs from other types of communities? Have students work in groups of three or four to brainstorm and record what they know about suburbs. Have each group share its ideas with the rest of the class.


Outline the Opportunity


Direct students to the topic So Long Cities, Hello Suburbs on the CBC Digital Archives website. Students will thoroughly review all elements of the clips "White-picket dreams", "Suburban living: 'It's perfect'", "Choose the suburbs!", "Art in the '905'", "The new (sub)urbanism" and identify three to five of the characteristics that distinguish suburbs. If time permits, students can browse the topic to find other pertinent details about suburbs.


Revisit and Reflect


Gather the class and compile a master list of the major characteristics of suburbs. Ask: In what ways did suburbia provide the best of city and country living? Do suburbs today still offer the best of both worlds?




Students can explore additional clips on the website to determine how suburbs have changed since the first ones started in the 1950s. Students can suggest ways they think suburbs will change in the future by creating a sketch or writing a description of a futuristic suburb.

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