Street Design


This activity further explores the street as a vital component to a healthy, functional, and vibrant neighborhood.  Students will use comparing and contrasting to explore good and bad street design.  Through this exploration, they will define the different functionalities of a street including an avenue of transportation, outdoor living space, and a space for exercise and social interaction.  Students will then have an opportunity to apply what they have learned to designing their own street improvements.

Download the entire Street Design Lesson Plan


Core Question

How does the shape that we give to your city, in turn, shape us?
Supporting Question: What makes a community functional, healthy, and beautiful?

learning Objectives

I can explain the purpose that a street serves in a neighborhood.
I can design street improvements that will make a better community.

Supporting Text

“Reforming the Arterial: Streets That Move Cars and Create Great Places” excerpt from The Plan of Nashville: Avenues to a Great City.
The Complete Street: Theory and Practice” excerpt from Shaping the Healthy Community: The Nashville Plan.


health focus

When analyzing and designing streets, have students identify how the design improves opportunities for exercise and better air quality. 




Trace paper
Markers and/or colored pencils
Compare and Contrast” packet (one per student)
Be a Street Designer” packet (one per group, 11x17 recommended)
Capability of projecting YouTube videos

Timing recommendation

Launch: 30 min
Activity: 85
Closing: 5 min
Total time: 2 hrs



  • Discussion questions ready

  • Videos ready to watch

  • Vocabulary ready for review


  • Handout: “Compare and Contrast” packet

  • “Be a Street Designer” handouts, markers, and trace paper ready for street designing


  • Questions ready for display



This launch is intended to activate student’s thinking about how the design of streets can affect the quality of a community.

  • Discuss student’s current perceptions of the role of a street:

    • Describe the streets in your neighborhood. What do they look like? What activities happen on them? Are they safe? Why or why not?

    • Describe a “good” street.

  • Show the following videos, and have students record the activities that they see happening. After the videos, discuss all of the activities that the street supports, and how that made the community more healthy, vibrant, and functional.

  • Vocabulary Review: This activity will reinforce the types of neighborhoods they explored in the “Story Map” activity: downtown, urban, suburban, and rural. Review this vocabulary, and explain that they will be looking closer at what good street design is for each type of neighborhood.



Design improvements to streets that will help them better support the needs of the community.

  • Compare and Contrast: Have students work through the “Compare and Contrast” worksheets where they will compare and contrast before and after images of streets in order to gain a deeper understanding of the design elements that make up good streets. After they are finished, discuss their findings by asking what they saw that made the street better in the following categories:

    • Safety: What made the street safer?

    • Activities: What activities can people do now that they couldn’t before?

    • Aesthetics: What makes the street look better, and therefore creates a more pleasant environment?

    • Health (optional): What exercise opportunities are there that were not before? How did the amount of pollution reduce, if at all?

  • Ideal Street Design Definition: Read, and explain that this will guide them through their street designs.

  • Be a Street Designer: Have students overlay trace paper on top of the images on the “Be a Street Designer” worksheets, and design street improvements. If you are focusing on health, then have them design identify improvements to exercise opportunities and air quality in their designs.

  • Presentations - Let each group present their street designs to the rest of the class. When they’re presenting, focus on the following:

    • What did you add/change to the street?

    • What are the reasons for your additions/changes?

    • How will these improvements help make the community more healthy, safe, and functiona l?


Reflect and Discuss:

  • What purpose does a street serve in a neighborhood?

  • What improvements would you suggest for the streets in your neighborhood? Remember to justify your improvements with how it is benefitting the community.


sample work