Community Helpers is one of my favorite thematic units. I love immersing our time with those around our community that make is great.
We live in tight-knit small town USA and it is not at all unusual to spend a few moments at the mailbox catching up with the mailman (or lady) on their latest family addition.
It is a common place in our town to hand the bus driver a hot cup of coffee through her window on morning routes.
We know one another because it matters. It is OUR community for better or worse and each day it is what WE invest in it that makes it a place we all lovingly call home.
So, when we study "Community Helpers" we are learning about our friends, our family, our neighbors. THIS is what makes for real learning when children can concretely put a name with the profession of someone they waive too each day.
Our Firefighters are the BEST!
Our local fire department is VERY proactive to bring trucks, gear, and training to US!
The children LOVE touring the trucks and practicing "Stop! Drop! Cover! and Roll!"
We played 911 during our dramatic play and practiced dialing and recognizing the numbers. We took turns dialing the numbers and practicing what we would say.
During our firefighter demonstration we learned that even though they may look and sound scary, they are just dads on the inside and dads are not scary!!
What do we do to daddies? We give them BIG hugs!! That is what we do to our firefighter friends if they are coming to help us during a fire, we give them BIG bear hugs!!
Who delivers our mail?
We made mailbags that we sewed together ourselves using red yarn and some pre-poked holes! We weaved and tied and packed our bags with letters we made and delivered around the room to the "restaurant," the "hospital," and the "school."
We matched our letters from the teacher, the doctor, and the cook to their respective locations deducing through conversation and logic where the destination may be.
Our little learners played this logic and correspondence game throughout the entire day writing and delivering letters.
Our Bus Driver Is A Rock Star!
Each morning as we place our school kiddos on the bus this wonderful lady lingers a few moments to lean out her window, wave, honk and make sure these little ones are filled with anticipation for their turn to be "school kids" and ride the bus too.
She is one-of-a-kind and we are so privileged to have a community full of people that do their jobs as an extension of who they are with their whole heart.
Ms. Julie made time in her schedule to visit us during our "Bus Driver" Community Helper study. We were able to open and close the doors, honk the horn, open and close windows, practice getting on and off the bus safely, get up and down from the seats, and have a conversation about what happens if the bus is in an accident and we cannot exit through the doors!
We came back into the classroom and played "Bus Matching" pre-math matching game from our curriculum partner, Mother Goose Time, and then moved on to Creative Arts putting together our very own mini buses and little Julie's to drive them! We used these during Dramatic play for days!!! We stacked and counted them, drove them with full and empty loads, broke and taped them up again while using them as props to sing "Wheels on the Bus!"
Why do we discuss Community Helpers?
Community Helpers seem to be a thematic unit for any quality curriculum. One may think that discussing them year after year may get a bit stale. To young children, revisiting these themes gives them an opportunity to put their constantly developing sense of self, logic, reasoning, and skills to practice when restudying thematic units.
I came across this article about the importance of Community Helpers and I couldn't agree more.
"Parents constantly warn children about the danger of strangers. In today’s society, that is an important lesson. But what happens if the child is in an emergency situation? Imagine your house is on fire and someone in a strange uniform tries coaxing you from your home and your usual place of safety. You can understand why children sometimes hide from fire fighters under a bed or in a closet.
These fears can be prevented when children meet community helpers in a safe and fun environment before being asked to trust them in an emergency. When we think like a young child, we realize how alarming an unusual uniform or vehicle might be perceived. Rescue vehicles are loud and fast. To see one up close and touch it while stationary helps children be less apprehensive when one speeds by with sirens wailing.
By participating in dramatic play with costumes and acting out behaviors of community helpers, children develop important social/emotional skills and are more comfortable with uniforms. It helps them understand the world around them and their place in it. It’s important for children to learn their role in a community and that there are safe, friendly people to help them if they get sick or have an emergency. It’s comforting for children to learn there are strangers outside of their family who have a concern for their safety and well-being and to understand who they can trust." - https://cdmfun.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/why-teach-young-children-about-community-helpers/
We are also able to introduce our little learners to those in their community that will be caring for them in the coming years to help ease anxiety about transitions and provide confidence that, "I am o.k., You are o.k.!"
This confidence builds competence.
And to think we get to do all this through play....swoon...
As always, I wish you well and I hope you get to play today!
Life is made of moments...
"There isn't anything more full of hope, joy and peace than a child's smile... It captures the mundane and makes it extraordinary." - LaDonna Woolsey
I am a Mother Goose Time Blogger. I decided to become one after trying their products because I they are comprehensive and serve my mixed age group well. I do receive products to review from Mother Goose Time and do so with my own honest and thorough opinions. For more information, please contact me at Ladonna@woolseyacademy.com