Around age 3, preschoolers start noticing differences in their peers, including how actions might make others feel. The helping theme encourages preschoolers to make positive actions toward one another. The theme also highlights people who help in the community. Incorporating friendship and kindness into the activities expands the theme in a way that is relevant to preschoolers.
The helping theme lends itself well to highlighting community members who help. Police officers, firefighters, teachers, nurses, mail carriers and farmers are examples of community members who help others. Invite local community helpers to speak to the preschool students. Ask the guest speakers to share their stories of helping others. Give the preschoolers a chance to practice helping with a helper-themed dramatic play area. Gather costumes and props for each of the different community helpers you feature.
Preschool students learn best by doing. Support the helping theme by encouraging students to help around the school. Let the kids brainstorm ways they can help other students at school. Examples include drawing pictures to decorate the halls, making get well cards for sick classmates, cleaning up the playground or planting flowers at the preschool. You can expand to the community by gathering food for a food bank or visiting a nursing home. Take photos of the community projects and turn them into a book.
If you want to encourage helping in the classroom, start documenting the acts of kindness. A bulletin board display is an easy option. Cut out small hand shapes from construction paper. When you notice someone in your classroom helping, write down the act and post it on the bulletin board. You can also ask the kids to share acts of kindness that they see to add to the display. Another option is to have a class kindness journal. When preschoolers notice someone helping out, they can draw a picture of it in the journal. Once a week, go through the new entries in the kindness journal.
Preschool-friendly books lead into discussions about kindness and helping others. You can also use the books as the basis for a role-playing activity. Have the preschoolers act out the main parts of the story to highlight the helping theme. "Rainbow Fish" by Marcus Pfister demonstrates how giving to others brings happiness. "Tiger and Mouse: The Gift of Helping Others" by Theodore Allen Lightfoot tells of a tiger who always wants to play and his mouse friend who needs help. Help the kids relate the stories to their own lives. For example, after reading "Rainbow Fish" you might ask the kids to share how helping or giving something to a friend made them feel.
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