Photo of Pittsboro courthouse and text

John’s O&M Lesson 5: 3 Types of Communities

Use a local map to learn about nearby urban, suburban, and rural communities

Lesson 5: PBO’s Relationship to Nearby Cities

Now that John has basic knowledge about downtown historic Pittsboro and the new area around the Pittsboro Bypass, it is time to expand his knowledge to learn more about the surrounding cities and the roads that lead to these cities. The goal of this map is for John to learn where his town is in relationship to other nearby towns and cities; and, to learn about highways and interstates.

Nearby Cities and Towns Activity

John’s family have lived in Chatham County for generations. Part of a large extended family, John has family members who live in various nearby small towns and also in nearby cities. John is interested in understanding where these family members live in comparison to Pittsboro and each other.

Pittsboro Extended Map This map displays the towns and cities near Pittsboro.

Note: The points on the map mark the downtown of each city or town.

Encourage John to explore the map on his own. (John may explore randomly or he may jump to Pittsboro and then explore. Either way is fine, when he is exploring.)

To build a mental map with Pittsboro as the center, ask John to Jump to Pittsboro. (“J” to bring up the menu, type in Pittsboro, and press Enter.)

Using his personal knowledge, first ask John to name the four major cities (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Greensboro). Where are these cities in relationship to Pittsboro? Use the map to answer the following questions:

Ask John to name family members and where they live. Ask him which of his family members live in/near the small towns. Locate these small towns. (Bonlee, Silk Hope, Bonlee, Moncure and Bynum) Where are these small towns in relationship to Pittsboro? Which small town is closest to Pittsboro. Ask John what he knows about each town and why he thinks these towns are still small while other towns have grown and expanded.

Expanded Lesson

This applies personal knowledge or what John has learned in school – this information is not available in the map. However, it is a good way to encourage logical thinking! With these small towns, the “industry” that built the town is no longer viable. Example: Bynum was originally a cotton mill village on the banks of the Haw River. The first mill was built in 1872 and was water powered. The Bynum mill closed in 1983.  In 1884, the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad opened; Bonlee, Bear Creek and Siler City grew beside the railroad. Moncure was also originally a railroad town. Note: Expand this map lesson by researching the history of these small towns! Why was it important to be along a river? What impact did the railroads make? What type of product did the railroads carry? Do the trains still run? What was/is the main “industry” for these small towns? What did small towns like Cary and Apex grow exponentially while towns like Bynum and Moncure have decreased in size?

Three Types of Communities

What cities are suburbs of Raleigh? (Cary and Apex) How does being a suburb of Raleigh impact the city’s growth? Why do you think Pittsboro has grown? What do you think Pittsboro will be like 10 years from now? 20 years from now?

What are two cities close to Pittsboro that are somewhere in between the size of Bonlee, Bynum and Moncure, but are not as large as Raleigh or Chapel Hill? (Sanford and Siler City) What are the main industries in these cities? (Siler City: agriculture, chicken processing plants; Sanford: bricks and pottery; active railroad and industrial center; this is information that John knows or may have to research). How do the locations of this town or city impact/support thes town’s industries? 

Name a rural city/town. Where is it located? Is there a small cluster of rural cities/towns?

What kind of community is Greensboro?

Note: Create a similar map using your local area or use this NC map to teach the social studies concepts – but keep in mind that the map does not provide all the information such as as the size/population of the towns and cities.



By Diane Brauner