Community Helpers and Fire Safety Unit for Preschool
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Community Helpers and Fire Safety is one of my favorite units to teach. I love to see children making connections to their community. I like to teach community helpers around fire safety week. Kids can become hyper focused on things that scare them and it is nice to be able to talk about it for a few days and then change the subject to a new community helper.
To start out our unit we took a closer look at our community and the jobs within the community. When I was in the classroom, we would always take a walk around town searching for community helpers. However, when you live in a bigger city that can be more challenging. To make our unit more personal, I drove around town and took pictures of the buildings in our community and made it into this cute editable book. It was fun to see if my daughter was able to recognize it before I told her what the building was and the community helpers that worked there. We continued to build our vocabulary with a cute matching game. V had to match the community helper to the building where they work. I made it more interactive by cutting out the community helper, taping them to a popsicle stick and slicing a hole by the matching building. That way V could insert the community helper next to the building. To tie it all together, V drew a picture of the most influential community helper. This would make a cute class book in the classroom.
The first community helper we focused on was a builder. We have been talking about building our new house, so I thought this would be a fun way to get V involved. We read the book, Jack’s Houseby Karen Magnuson Beil. This is a great book for repetition and construction vocabulary. Then, I introduced V to centers. The fun thing about centers with one child is that they can explore at their own pace. All of the centers that I introduced were open ended.
Center 1: we build structures using colored tooth picks and marshamallows.
Center 2:we made popsicle sticks houses (try not to model this or their house will look just like yours:).
Center 3: we played at a community helper themed block center.
Center 4: Construction dig site.
I love creating centers in our home. They were always such an important part of a classroom when I was teaching in 4K. I felt they were a great way to tie more community helpers into our unit. We included puzzles, the block people we made from the printable, community helper vehicles, a variety of wooden blocks, some with snaps, magnets and real wood with tree bark. I tried to include activities that work on important concepts, like the vocabulary sort with community helper buildings and crucial items for each building. This was one of our favorite centers.
V has also been into making letters for family and friends, so I made a cute little post office for her in order to discuss the mail carrier. I found this cute shelf at Ikea. It was perfect for our writing center materials. We included crayons, markers, gel pens, colored pencils, smelly markers, EXPO markers. post it notes, notebooks, scrap paper, lined paper, colored paper, scrapbook paper, index cards, envelopes, ABC stickers and stampers, stamp pads, stapler, tape, scissors, patterned scissors etc. We also had a whiteboard with editable name cards, to practice building the names of friends and family. V put her cards in the mailboxes we made by folding 9 by 12 pieces of paper in half. To work on number sense V had to deliver mail to the matching number.
One of my favorite community helper books was Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha. It is a great book to discuss the main character and his likes and dislikes. I also like how the book has a great repetitive refrain that the kids can help read. After we read our book, V had to “pick up the shape trash.” I labeled four baskets with shapes. I choose shapes that can be easily confused like rectangle, triangle, diamond and square. I found some scrap paper and drew the shapes. V had to pick up the scraps and crunch them into a ball before she sorted them by shape. To tie it all together we made a shape dump truck. V had to cut out a rectangle, triangle and square to build a garbage truck. We added alumunum foil to represent the inside of the truck. V choose some scraps/trash to add to the truck. We are always working on way to make connections to books, so V then had to tell me what she picked up when she was cleaning Trashy Town. I wrote it on the slip and she glued it to the top of her paper.
Children are very sensitive to the topic of fire safety. This can cause anxiety and worry. Prior to a lesson about fire safety and prevention I always sent home a hand out and checklist for parents to discuss with children. Most school and centers have to do monthly fire drills, so kids usually know what to do in a school. However a few concepts I always like to cover when I was in the classroom, was what do if you woke up at night and your room was full of smoke. We talked about staying low, covering your mouth with your pajamas and touching the door before you open it. Parents will cover these topics as well as how to get out of their bedroom and a meeting place if they make it our prior to the lesson, which makes it a lot easier. Kids live in different kids of housing so each situation will be different. When a child knows what they need to do, it helps them feel a sense of control. We reviewed items that are too hot and not safe to touch. We also practiced what to do if our clothing catches on fire. V liked to demonstrate stop, drop and roll, which would be fun in a large group situation as well. For a project we made a giant t-shirt and finger painted “fire” on the shirt with red and yellow paint. Then we glued the words stop, drop and roll on the shirt to remind us what to do.
One of my favorite books for fire safety is Fire Truck by Ivan Ulz. This book was first a song by Ivan Ulz and is a great way to introduce firefighters. After we learned the song, we read the book. We reviewed firefighter vocabulary words. Then, we played “Alphabet Flames.” I laminated alphabet flames and taped them to the floor. Violet pretended she was a firefighter and threw water (bean bags) at the flames to put them out. When a bean bag landed on a flame she would write it on her printable (also available to color or trace). Finally, Violet finger painted flames on a sheet of paper and then glued an editable firetruck name puzzle over the flames.
To review all of the community helpers we learned about we practiced one to one reading correspondence with these simple sentences. We pointed and read “I see a police officer,” etc. Then, we played the game, “Pin the Badge on the Officer.” V and friends, closed their eyes and tried to pin a name badge (name writing practice) on this giant police officer that I printed off on several pieces of paper and assembled. The closest one to the star won. V also had fun using map symbols to build a city. Finally, she made a police officer version of herself. We had so much fun with our unit. Check it out here: