Small children look up to community helpers such as firefighters and police officers as heroes, and most preschool curricula cover these and other community helpers as part of a social studies curriculum. Because preschoolers learn through play and hands-on activities, games are an effective way to teach a wealth of information about community helpers and their roles in cities and towns.
Match It Up
Play the classic memory game using images of community helpers, such as bakers, mail carriers, nurses and trash collectors. Find pictures in magazines or print them from the Internet. Make sure you have two of each picture. Glue the pictures to cardstock to make the game more durable. Put a spin on classic memory by having children match community helpers to the tools they use to do their job. For example, have a picture of a firefighter and a picture of a hose. During play, the child will place the hose next to the firefighter. Play a similar game having preschoolers match a community helper to his vehicle, such as a paramedic to an ambulance. Matching community helpers to their uniforms, such as a lab coat for a doctor, is another way to play a matching game, suggests Marilee Whiting Woodfield, author of "Early Learning Center Games, Grades PK-1."
Guess the Helper
Play guessing games to help preschoolers recognize various community helpers and what their jobs are. Play the game verbally by telling preschoolers that you're thinking of a certain community helper and see if they can guess who you're describing. For example, tell the children that the community helper you're thinking of wears a blue uniform, carries a bag and delivers envelopes to homes, to which students will guess mail carrier. Play a similar game by showing students pictures of different things community helpers use and asking them to guess the helper. Show preschoolers a picture of a loaf of bread for a baker or a chalkboard for a teacher, for example. Once the children get the hang of the game, allow them to take turns providing clues to the rest of the students.
Uniforms are an important part of many community helpers' jobs, and bringing them into the classroom helps children learn more about each job. Show students examples of the uniforms and have them identify which community helper wears each item. Then pile up the clothes to play a dressing game. Choose a student to go first and ask him to stand by the pile of dress-up clothes. Call out a community helper, such as police officer, and encourage the child to "become" that person as quickly as he can. Once he's dressed, offer praise, then let him take off the costume so another child can have a turn. The child who just finished dressing gets to choose the community helper for the next child's turn.
On the Bus
Help preschoolers understand where community helpers do their jobs by playing a bus riding game. Set up a chair to be the bus driver's chair and line up two rows of chairs behind to be the seats on the bus. Choose one student to be the bus driver. The bus driver takes his seat on the bus and then pretends to pick up the other students to take them to work. The bus driver asks the first child what his job is and then verbally announces that he'll drop him off at the right place. For example, if a bus rider states that he's a doctor, the bus driver would tell him that he'll drop him off at the hospital. Play the game several times so all the preschoolers get a turn to be the bus driver.
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