If you teach a community helpers unit in your classroom, this post is for you. Community starts at home and in early learning environments such as preschools and churches. These environments are the first places where young children grow and learn within a group. Enjoy this post outlining community helper activities for preschoolers.
Community Helper Activities for Preschoolers – Building Community Early
One group of people that children find fascinating is the community helpers that you see throughout your neighborhood. Preschoolers are practically primed to notice these people and have lots of questions about them. You can draw attention to public service workers (among others). This helps you educate children while building a sense of community around them. They'll grow into that sense of community before you know it. There are many community helper activities for preschoolers that you can easily incorporate into your home or classroom.
What is a Community Helper?
Before we dive into community helper activities for preschoolers, let's step back and think about the definition of a community helper. Below you will find a list of community helpers to provide a focus for community helper activities preschool children really enjoy:
- Police Officers
- Fire personnel
- Garbage collectors
- Mail and package deliverers
- Utility workers
- Snowplow drivers
- Game wardens
- Animal Handlers
- Dog walkers
- Bus Drivers
- Lawncare personnel
- Construction workers
- Sanitation Workers
- Recycling Truck Drivers
- Road crews
- Taxi drivers
- Crossing guards
- Doctors, dentists, and nurses
- Store Clerks
- Teachers, of course!
This isn't an exhaustive list. You may have other community helpers in your area. Once you've noticed them you can help your child notice them as well. This happens pretty naturally as a parent drives around town with the child watching out the window in the back seat. Perhaps you spot a police horse. Perhaps they see window cleaners high on a tall building.
Don't think that helpers have to be public servants. Some businesses may provide ideas for neighborhood helpers. Seeing a helicopter may prompt a discussion, and so can watching a person assist a disabled member of the community.
What is the role of community helpers in our daily life?
Community helpers are people who live and work right alongside the rest of us in our communities. Community helpers take care of us and play an important role in our society. So, you can understand the vital importance of teaching children about their role in our lives and the critical jobs they hold in our communities.
The Important Role the People Play in Our Lives
I can hear Mr. Rogers now as he takes his shoes off and sings “Won't You Be My Neighbor?” So vividly, the thought practically brings tears to my eyes. How can one person impact the lives of so many young children?
His message, especially this one, was always sincere, genuine and full of kindness. Sesame Street resonates with the same theme with “Who are the People in Your Neighborhood?” with such sweetness and goodness that we have to smile and feel good about the idea of, and hopefully for most of us, the reality of “community”.
How to Teach Kids about Community Helpers
Such an important topic to bring home to children for a lot of reasons such as safety, thoughtfulness, understanding the way the world works (e.g. the mail doesn't just magically appear in our mailbox, someone actually delivers it). I try my best to always address the people in our neighborhood, wave, ask his or her name when possible and generally try to show my children that they should feel safe and that these people take care of us.
Theses community helper activities you use can go far beyond a quick discussion in the car. It pays to take the time and test the waters, so to speak. If you pulled off the side of the road and watched some local construction work going on, would your child be keenly interested? Or bored and restless? This is a good indication that this is a topic for you to bring up soon, or to shelve for another day.
Community Helper Activity Using Figurines
I was thrilled to see that Safari LTD created a “People” Toob, the perfect complement and tool to teach children about Community Helpers. So I jumped on the chance to own the Toob and use it for this very purpose – beginning the conversation about these community helpers, the people who take care of us. There are seven figures included in this Toob.
I added our Farmer from the Down on the Farm Toob (the detail on this figure is remarkable!) because I think that a person plays a key role in our community with a focus on eating locally and organically. We're lucky in an area near so many farms that grow food in healthy and sustainable ways for our environment. We are even luckier that we get to attend Farm School and visit these farms for pumpkin picking and harvesting.
My sons are in love with the figures included in Safari's People Toob. Their imaginations are running wild with ideas to incorporate with their People. Heartwarming to see such a simple product inspiring them so much.
My 3-year-old is asking me more specifically about how a latter gets to our home, for example, and how the people know how to build the buildings, not to mention, “where do they take the trash, mama?”
Community Helper Themed Ideas
I believe having real experiences and moving our bodies is the best way to learn. With that idea in mind, here are some hands-on active ideas. You can build on the interest of children with everything from the simplest activity to something that requires a bit more planning and preparation.
These activities are perfect for preschool and kindergarten on how to get to know the people in your neighborhood and to understand a bit more about how the world works:
- Take a field trip to the firehouse
- Take a trip to a local farm
- Stop and watch a local construction site, study the machines
- Write a thank-you note to a teacher
- Visit a post office, mail a letter, create your own stamp
- Watch the garbage and recycling trucks then visit a local library or the internet to read more on the process
- Find someplace to watch planes or visit a Museum of Aviation or Flight
- Find someplace to watch trains
- Ask to take a peek into the kitchen of a local restaurant
- Next plane ride, ask for a peek inside the cockpit. Maybe if he or she has time the pilot will indulge you and your child
- Attend your community's next “Safety Day”. Many communities host these events for children every year.
- Coloring and drawing pages to spark conversation
- Use toys of people who serve communities. This activity can be with figurines or with pretend play materials.
- Visit community centers like the police station
- Watch (from a safe distance) construction
- Visit a working port with cargo barges
- Ask people to visit your school environment and give a demonstration
- Use learning websites that explore neighborhood helpers
- Talk to and get to know neighborhood regulars like garbage collectors and mail deliverers
- Set up a grocery store or post office at home or at school
- Read books about helpers and workers
- Make puppets
- Set up an animal clinic with stuffed animals
- Sing songs about community helpers
- Create a community helper A to Z book
- Make a community helper book
- Create a Visual Aid to help your child understand how he is connected to the people in his community
More Community Helper
To go along with your Safari People Toob, here are some wonderful activity links to celebrate the People in Our Neighborhood:
- Fire Safety: Build a Firetruck from one of my favorite blogs Teach Preschool
- Animal Doctor: Set up your very own Pretend Play Vet Clinic by the adorable No Time for Flashcards
- Recycling: Recycling sort activities are easy to do and go a long way in giving children lifelong skills.
- Construction Worker: Construction Worker Pretend Play from Crayons and Freckles
- Doctor: Doctor Pretend Play
- Community Helper Stick Puppets with FREE Printables from First Palette. I can't wait to do this one with my sons.
- Make a Mailman or Mailwoman carrier toilet tube puppet with free printable from Making Learning Fun
Some of these activities can turn into community building, like when you offer cold soda pop to the garbage collectors during hot weather. Saying hello to the mail deliverer demonstrates safe ways to talk to strangers. In addition, it offers service-oriented people as a resource for a child should they find themselves in an unsafe situation.
Children's Books about Community Helpers
Why Focusing on Community Helpers Is Important
Teaching your children about the many people who serve within your local community works on several levels. As a safety lesson, these activities prepare children to be actively engaged in their personal safety. Additionally, these people provide ideas for children who think about what they want to be when they grow up.
Children need opportunities to interact with the people in their environment and explore their world. Many of these workers have very exciting jobs! They all do important work to make the community safe, orderly, clean and useful.
You never know when community helper activities for preschool children may develop into a service project of your own concerning littering, animal safety, or anything else that catches the attention of your children. Community helper activities for preschool children may be the beginning of a long-lasting love for service personnel and future job exploration. Boys and girls can see how they can serve the community. Their awareness grows and this, in turn, helps them become better citizens later.
Community Helper Resources
- PBS Learning
- Community Helper Books for Kids
- Community Helper Figurines
- [Newsletter Subscribers Only] Download FREE Community Helper 3-Part-Cards
Thank you for choosing to read this post today. Please leave a comment, I love hearing from you, and share this post with your social network. I hope that we inspired you today.
For more ideas on how to get children connected & involved in their communities, please check out Service Projects for Young Children