Our Local Landmarks

What can we learn about a community from its landmarks? Find out with a partner class!
Ages 8-14 / 60
min Activity
Perspective Taking
Social Studies


  • ‍Explore photos of landmarks around the world and consider what it means for something to be a ‵landmark’
  • ‍Collaborate on a presentation about a community landmark
  • ‍Use technology to meet a partner class located in another community
  • ‍Reflect on similarities and differences between their landmarks, and the significance for their community’s history, geography, and culture

Supporting Research

As people view and interact with landmarks, they become important symbols of a community’s history, hopes, beliefs, and values. Educators should encourage students to practice self-awareness and perspective taking as they explore stories and experiences around landmarks in both communities, and reflect on what these landmarks might represent about their culture, history, and environment. Students will also practice collaboration as they work together to present about their selected landmarks.

To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.


Activity Partners

Educator Note

Empatico offers an exciting opportunity for educators to connect their classrooms with other classes around the world. Once you have connected with another educator in the Empatico community, you can schedule live virtual exchanges to bring your students together. These cross-cultural experiences enable students to share their stories, explore different perspectives, and make new friends in another community. 

Empatico exchanges are most successful when educators plan and get to know each other beforehand. To do this, please schedule a video call to connect with your partner educator, and use this opportunity to share your goals for this experience, exchange helpful information about your students, and discuss how you will lead the exchange together. Our "Get to Know Your Partner Educator" resource provides suggested conversation prompts for your meeting.

For more tips on leading a positive, cross-cultural experience for your students, please watch our “Teacher Tips” video.

Prepare: plan for the virtual exchange.

  1. Display the Landmarks Slideshow for students, and explain: “We’re going to explore different landmarks around the world! As you view the photos, think about why this landmark might be important for its community and what it means for something to be a ‵landmark’.”
  2. After the slideshow, ask students to work together on a shared definition of ‵landmark’. For example, students might decide that a landmark is a place or building that is important to people. 

    Then, invite students to share about the different types of landmarks that they noticed in the photos. For example, the categories might include:
    • An important building or unique structure
    • Ancient or historical site
    • Natural wonder or unique environmental feature
  3. Using their shared definition of ‵landmark’, and the different categories that they identified, ask students to nominate some local landmarks. As students share their ideas, write them down on a physical or digital board that is visible to everyone, and identify the most popular landmark (e.g., by holding a class vote). 
  4. Divide students into groups, and assign each group a different question to research about your selected landmark, such as:
    • When and why was the landmark built or established?
    • Who originally built the landmark or established it as an important site?
    • Why is the landmark significant to our community? Does it have any cultural, historic, and/or geographic importance?
    • What does the landmark look like?
    • What should visitors know if they want to visit the landmark? (e.g., any costs, times, or access information)
  5. Then, introduce your students to Empatico by watching this video, and ask them the following questions:
    • How do you feel about meeting our partner class? What do you think our new friends will be like?
    • Do you know anything about the city or country where our partner class is located? Where can we find more information about their location? (e.g., by using Google Earth to explore their neighborhood, or searching for images of their city online)
    • What do you think it might be like to live there? What do you think our neighborhoods might share in common, and how do you think our neighborhoods might be different?

    Throughout your conversation, nurture positive feelings such as excitement and curiosity. Explain that it’s normal to notice differences between ourselves and others, and that you will practice doing so respectfully. If any misconceptions or stereotypes arise, gently counteract them and explain how to reframe assumptions by asking questions or making "I wonder..." comments. (e.g., "I wonder what landmarks our new friends might enjoy visiting.") Ensure that students see this experience as an exciting opportunity to learn from their partner class!
  6. Decide how students will present your selected landmark during the exchange - for example, each group might nominate a leader to share the information that they gathered. The overall presentation should be 5-8 minutes long, and can be presented as a poster, slideshow, video, or any other format of students’ choice. It may also be helpful for students to write down speaking notes ahead of time. 

    If any students have visited the landmark, invite them to share a story about their visit during the exchange as well. 
  7. Help students come up with questions to ask their partner classmates, such as:
    • If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you want to go? Are there any landmarks that you would want to see there?
    • What is an especially vivid dream that you remember having?
    • Who is your favorite musician or actor, and why?
    • How do you spend your free time?
    • What is your favorite holiday or festival, and why?

    Encourage students to write down their stories and questions on notecards that they can reference during the virtual exchange. 
  8. Establish and share communication norms for the virtual exchange, such as:
    • Keep yourself on “mute” (unless you are talking) to limit background noise, and raise your hand when you want to speak.
    • When it’s your turn to speak, come close to the device, say your comment or question loudly and clearly, and remain at the camera to hear your partner classmate’s response. Start by saying your name (e.g., “Hi, my name is ___. My question is...).
    • Listen attentively to the speaker and use hand signals (e.g., thumbs-up, “me too” signal, etc.) to indicate agreement or similarities.
    • Make sure that others have a chance to speak during the exchange.

    Ask students to share additional ideas for how they will show respect to their new friends, and consider leading a practice session so students can practice these strategies and imagine having a fun, positive interaction with your partner class. 

    For more tips on setting up your classroom for a virtual exchange, please visit this resource.
  9. As an optional coding extension, invite students to use this handout to create a puzzle, which invites people to use a series of steps (or “algorithm”) to solve a maze and reach a special destination…their community landmark! Students can share their puzzles with each other, or send them to their partner classmates to try out!

Interact: meet your partner class over a live virtual exchange.

Facilitate the virtual exchange using Empatico’s built-in Zoom integration, or the video tool that you previously selected, and follow the suggested exchange structure below:

  1. Start the video call by greeting your partner educator, and express gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to connect with each other. Then, facilitate an introduction between students in both classes. You might have them introduce themselves, and share about their class grade, school, location, and/or a fun fact about their community.
  2. Provide space for both classes to share about their community landmarks, and encourage students to listen carefully and ask follow-up questions to learn more (e.g., “Your landmark is beautiful! Do you know how they built it?”). Encourage behaviors that show respect and other strengths, like empathy, thoughtfulness, and humility, such as students applauding after each presentation to recognize their peers’ efforts. 
  3. Invite students to take turns asking the questions that they prepared, and responding to each other. 
  4. End the exchange by asking students to thank their partner class for sharing a part of their day with them, and for the opportunity to get to know each other a little better. Then, students can say “goodbye” and express excitement for meeting again during your next virtual exchange together!

If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...

Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call. 
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.

If students in either class don’t have individual devices...

Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.  
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.

If you prefer not using Kahoot!...

Use this document (Spanish version) to prompt students.