Urbanization: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Grace Miller

Mary Grace has taught first grade for 8 years and has a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and is licensed in ESL.

Urbanization is when an area becomes more urban, or more like a big city. Urbanization has both positive and negative aspects, and this lesson will teach you a little more about each of these sides.

Meet Henry

Henry is an eight year old boy who lives with his mom, his dad, and his dog Spot. They live in a house on a quiet street, but things have started to change in Henry's neighborhood. The forest nearby is being cleared to make room for more houses, and now when he looks out his window he can see skyscrapers downtown. What's happening to Henry's neighborhood? It's urbanization! Let's learn more about it.

What Is Urbanization?

Urbanization means that more areas of the world are becoming cities and fewer are small towns or farmland.

This city underwent urbanization.

Did you know that throughout history, more and more people have lived in cities? Only 13% of people lived in cities in 1900, and 29% of people lived in cities in 1950. But if things continue the way scientists think they will, by 2030 60% of people might live in cities! But what happens to families like Henry's when their communities turn into cities without them choosing the change? Let's learn a little bit about the positive and negative effects of urbanization.

Positive Effects of Urbanization


With the increased population in urban areas, comes an increase in jobs. There are more opportunities for people to find work because there are way more services needed. For example, a small town may need only one barber shop, but a huge city needs hundreds! This creates more jobs for people in cities.


If you live in a rural area, like a smaller farm community, you can really only get around by driving a car because everything is so far away. When you live in a city, you have lots more options of ways to get around: you can take the subway, a train, or a bus, you can take a taxi, or you can even walk or ride your bike!

Many people in cities use the subway to get around.

Lots of people choose to live in cities so they don't even have to own a car.

Negative Effects of Urbanization


One of the problems with urbanization is that there are lots of buildings and cars in a very small space, which can lead to pollution, or the release of waste into the environment. Factories and cars can pollute the air, and water can get polluted by people and factories dumping chemicals or other waste into lakes and rivers.

This city is being polluted by the factory.

Did you know there is an effect in some cities called the heat island effect? These means that cities can be hotter than smaller towns that are very close by because the pavement and buildings absorb the heat from the sun instead of this heat being absorbed by soil and grass!

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