Playing Preschool - Unit 9: Community Helpers

Updated: Sep 13

A Companion Guide to Busy Toddler's Playing Preschool Curriculum


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Community Helpers to the Rescue

This unit was a life-saver because it just happened to fall during those few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas break when life gets a little crazy. This theme was super engaging because there were so many opportunities to connect our learning to real life (and because there were lots of additional activities to keep my toddler busy)! We were having so much fun that I actually stretched it from two weeks to three weeks. I even broadened the theme of “community helpers” to become more like “occupations” to capitalize on his interest in other jobs people do (like astronauts). Best of all, it opened my toddler's eyes to the idea of a community where everyone has a role and we all do our part.



Building Background Knowledge

I was thrilled to discover that my local library had a Community Helpers Subject-in-a-Box with books, a DVD, puzzles, flashcards and figurines (see additional resources below). I just had to figure out how to use it all in a way that made the most sense to my toddler. In the end, I decided to spend the first day introducing the idea that some people have jobs that help other people, and reading The Berenstain Bears Jobs Around Town. We also watched part of the DVD but I can't say I really recommend it. I would use one of the first two video links below instead.


After that, I spent each day focusing on one career. I found an awesome YouTube series called “Can You Imagine That?” where children talk about what career they want to have and imagine how they would do their job. There is a video to go along with (almost) every career we covered and some extras to explore for fun.


Video Links


Suggested Books

*Books with an asterisk are my Top 5 Picks to Add to Your Home Library for this unit

Additional Book List

Books in bold are also suggested books in another unit.


Non-Fiction

Fiction

Additional Resources/Activities

This unit lends itself to a lot of free play and role play, so I didn't have to come up with many additional activities, but I did provide my toddler with tools and resources to engage with. Use what you already have, or check these out:

Puzzles and Games



Figures and Vehicles


Role Play


Activities

  • Developing Life Skills: Write a thank you note or letter and mail it to Grandma or someone in another town. Be sure to tell them you are learning about community helpers or what you want to be when you grow up! Have them send you a picture of the letter when they get it to close the loop!

  • Field Trip: Meet a community helper. Visit the library, a fire station or the animal shelter. We happened to encounter a nice police woman at the library and she let my toddler sit in her patrol car and made the siren sound. It blew his mind!

  • Educational App: We strive to be screen-free during learning time (other than short videos for background knowledge) but my toddler loves Daniel Tiger and I appreciate the lessons the show teaches. We found a FREE app on our PBS.org that lets your child play doctor with Daniel, feed his fish, etc.

We got an amazing deal on this Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet with Kid-Proof Case at Christmas. I know screen time is a slippery slope but this came with so many free educational apps and digital books but most importantly, I have complete control over what is available on it.


Scaffolding/Support


  • With self-correcting puzzles, start with just a few your child will recognize and build from there. Same with flashcard matching tools to occupations - just offer 3 pairs at a time. You want your child to be successful, not overwhelmed.

  • Save the books that require your child to make inferences like "Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do" or "Whose Hat/Vehicle/Hands" for the end of the unit once your child is familiar with all the occupations. It won't make much sense if they don't have the background knowledge to offer an educated guess/prediction, but it is really good practice as making inferences is a skill your child will need in the future!


What was your favorite part of this unit? What other books did you read? What other activities did you do? Please share your photos and feedback in the Playing Preschool with Busy Toddler Curriculum Facebook Group in Photos/Albums/Year 1 Themes Community Helpers



Until next time, may your coffee be warm and your toddler be busy!

Up Next: Playing Preschool: Unit 10 - Transportation


See Also: Introduction to Playing Preschool with Busy Toddler, A Companion Guide to Busy Toddler's Playing Preschool Curriculum, Unit 1: Apples, Unit 2: Colors, Unit 3: Nursery Rhymes, Unit 4: Clothing, Unit 5: Food, Unit 6: Five Senses, Unit 7: Teddy Bears, Unit 8: Things That Go Together



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