Observation Deck Lesson Plan

Please note, this lesson plan was created by as a general guide and is not specific to any particular venue listed on our site.


Most major cities have an observation deck. Built on top of skyscrapers, they provide visitors with 360˚ views of the world below. The tallest observation deck, Canton Tower, is 1,601 feet above ground and provides sweeping views of Guangzhou, China, the city where it was built. Observation decks give visitors an opportunity to view a city from a different perspective. And from most observations decks visitors aren’t limited to viewing one city. Often, on clear days, visitors can see neighboring cities and even states!


Students observe the physical and human geography of a city from the vantage point of an observation deck.



• Discuss what a 360 degree view is. Why is it measured in degrees rather than miles?

• Activate students’ prior knowledge about the city you will be visiting. What do they know about the city? Also, provide them with background information about the structure itself – when was it built? Why was it built? How tall is it? Where in the city is it located?

Questions to ask staff: What waterways are present? Where do they lead? What parks or green spaces are present? Are they spread out or close together?

Describe what you see to the east, west, north, and south.
Observe the buildings. What are they made out of? How tall are they? How close together are they? Do they have any unique features?
Opinion: Choose one aspect of the city below (the organization of streets, location of parks, modes of transportation, etc.). If you were organizing the city, would you have done anything differently regarding that one aspect? Why or why not?
Compare old maps of the city to the views you see from the observation deck. What changes have been made? What has stayed the same?
Challenge: Examine the roadways. Notice the traffic, if there is any. Is there a pattern to the roadways and their intersections (is it a grid, are there outer and inner roadways, etc.)? How could the organization of the roadways be altered to be more efficient? Explain.

Discuss the architecture of the city. What structures appear to be modern and which ones are older. Explain how you know.
Project: Create a map for the city below.
Research the history of the observation deck and the structure it tops.
Social Impact: Many cities have preservation organizations. Research or contact the preservation organization for the city you visited and find out how preservationists are trying to protect the resources of the city.