community,  social studies

Introducing community helpers

One of the most common topics in the preschool classroom is community helpers. Whether you do a theme week about them, or regularly rotate community helper costumes through your dramatic play area, you’ve probably covered them at some point throughout the year. There’s good reason for this; we want our children to know who they can turn to when they need help, and we want them to recognize that we all play a role in making our community run successfully.

My favorite way to introduce this topic to preschoolers is with a discussion.  I ask them to name adults that help them,  to which they typically reply with family members – Mom, Dad, Grandma, you get the picture.  Then I encourage them to think about the places they like to go and the people that work there. 

After we answer those questions I try to broaden their thinking with questions that inspire them to think about other types of helpers:

  • Who can help us when we’re in trouble?
  • Who takes care of us when we’re sick?
  • Who keeps our community clean?
  • Who keeps us safe?
  • Who takes care of animals?
  • Who sells us the things that we need?
We have a nice long conversation about different occupations. I like to talk to the entire group to see if the children can spur each others’ memories, and to give them the opportunity to teach each other something new. I’ve also found that large group conversation can really build interest and curiosity. 
I use the children’s answers to the initial questions to assess what they already know, and where they might need some additional support from me.  I also observe their reactions to different answers to help myself prepare for the direction that their interests are headed.  
After I have all of this information then I start to think about other materials I might want to add into different classroom centers.  Check back tomorrow to see what some of my favorite community helpers activity centers are!

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