For preschool kids , one of the largest open-ended questions that can be asked is "what do you want to be when you grow up?" When asked this question, many preschool kids tend to shoot for the stars. However, this question can be an easy way to introduce a unit on occupations and community helpers, two subjects that can be explored though games, activities, crafts and even guest speakers.
The Helpers in the Community
It's important to teach preschool kids about the many tasks of community helpers, such as doctors, dentists, nurses, teachers, mail carriers, and police officers. Start by asking the children if they know any adults with these professions to see how much children know about the tasks associated with these various occupations.
When learning about doctors and nurses, try this fun craft called "Fix my Wound". For this craft, trace the outline of the child's arm or leg on a piece of paper. The children are to color or paint their limb including a small wound. Once the paint has dried, distribute band-aids to the children for them to place over the wounds on their crafts. Then, have each child present a story to the class as to how they got hurt and who helped them fix it.
Here's a craft where children make police badges that's perfect for learning about safety and the police. To begin the craft, cut out a number of badges from cardboard, and cover each badge with aluminum foil. Use stickers to decorate the badges, or try etching patterns into the foil with the stubby end of a paintbrush.
There are also a number of fun games for preschool kids to learn about the objects and tasks associated with various community helpers. First, cut out a number of pictures from magazines that are associated with community helpers, such as letters, stethoscopes, toothbrushes, or fire hydrants. Next, place a picture of each community helper on the wall and have the children match the objects to the corresponding person from the community.
Here's another fun matching game that's perfect for practicing what it might be like to deliver mail. Cut out a large number of different colored shapes, like triangles, circles, stars, and squares. Gather an equal number of mailboxes to the number of shapes, and label each mailbox with a picture of one of the shapes. Give the shapes to the children to place in the corresponding mailboxes. After all the shapes have been delivered, try the exercises again by sorting the deliveries by color instead of by shape.
Finally, here's a matching game that teachers children good nutritional habits, which can be played in conjuction with learning about oral hygiene and dentists. Place two large teeth on the wall. One tooth should be white and sparkling clean while the other is covered with dirt and plaque.
Next, hold up a series of pictures of foods, both good and bad, and have children decide which food goes with which tooth. This last exercise in this preschool kids series can also be performed with real food, as long as there are not too many examples of bad food!
By Mary Robinson
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