Monday, April 20, 2015

Earth Day Community Helpers

Community Helpers: an important unit in any preschool program! Put a new twist on this popular theme by asking children to think about those in the community who help the Earth. Invite children to close their eyes and picture the events in their minds* while you tell a story like the one below:

This morning Ian woke up and looked out his window. The birds were chirping and the ground looked clean. Ian stopped to think about this. Who made sure the birds had a good place to live? Who made sure the street was clean?
Ian and his dad walked to a city bus stop to ride to school. As Ian and his dad got on the bus, they said, “Good morning,” to the driver. She smiled at them.
Ian watched the people walking on the sidewalk. He saw some people riding bikes. They were on a special bike path, built just for them. Ian especially liked passing by the community garden. Mrs. Bertrand was standing at the gate, giving people tools to help them care for their plants.
Suddenly Ian saw a fire truck. It was not making a sound but was headed to the park. . He saw many people standing around a tree. A cat was stuck in the high branches. Ian’s dad explained that the firefighters would get out their ladder and help the cat get down.
When the bus stopped in front of Ian’s school, he and his dad waved to the driver. They said hello to the high school students who were picking up trash that had blown onto the playground. Ian took his dad’s hand as they walked into the classroom. He wanted to show him the thank you letter he and his friends made for the shopkeeper who had given the class birdseed for their window birdfeeders. Then Ian was ready to start his day!

After reading this little story (and we hope you will change names, events, etc. to make it more relevant for your area), ask children to retell it to encourage sequential thinking. You can hold up fingers to represent the events. This visual helps children think about the order of Ian’s morning.

Use a chart paper to make a list of the community helpers. Some of these community helpers are implied and you may need to ask leading questions such as the following:

Do you think someone who walks helps the community by not using gas? This keeps the air cleaner.

Do you think someone who drives a bus helps the community? This offers people a chance to ride together and keeps more cars off the roads.

Would people who made a bike path be community helpers? Tell why.

Do you think someone who works at a garden helps the community? Explain.

Were you surprised that firefighters help animals, too?

How are the high school students helping the community?

Do you think the shopkeeper is a community helper? Why?

Do you think Ian is a community helper? Tell why.

This little story gives our children a window into those that might not readily be thought of as community helpers. It shows that everyone, even preschoolers like Ian, can make a difference in the world.  As a follow-up, make a list of those who help around your school and neighborhood.  As you know, anytime we make charts and lists, we are modeling literacy concepts for our children.

*It is important and necessary to tell children to picture a story. I always suggest ‘making’ a movie of it in their minds. Throughout the years many children have told me they did not know they were allowed or supposed to do this!

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC – 2.D.01.; 2.D.03.;  2.D.06.; 2.E.03.
Head Start – V.A.; V.B.;VII.D.; VIII.A.; IX.C.;XI.B.

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