Once you have taught students the differences and similarities between a city, town, and suburb, students can work in groups to build models of these communities in your classroom. There are several different books and stories that you can share with students to show them the difference between these communities, and students can also create Venn diagrams to compare them. With all this background information shared, students are ready to begin their activity.
First, divide students into three groups: one group is rural, one is urban, and the last is suburban. (If you have a large class, you can divide students into six groups and assign two groups the same community.) They should create a list of buildings that will be in their community. For example, the city group would have skyscrapers, garages, apartment buildings, large hospitals, etc. The rural group would have a small store, a gas station, a family restaurant, a church, and so on. Students can put whatever they want on their list as long as it fits with their group.
Next, they build their community. They can use boxes, poster board, card stock, clay, models--anything they choose as long as they make a true representation of their assigned community. Group members must also write a description to go with their model. If you don't have much class time for this project, you can give students a couple of class periods for planning, and then they can create their buildings at home.
The final step is to have the groups talk about their community and view the other finished projects. Students should be allowed to ask each other questions about the displays and even about their assigned community.