I always enjoy teaching the community helpers unit to children. They love learning about people and places that they are familiar with in their community. There is so much that you can do with this unit to make it exciting, engaging and memorable for kids.
Where I teach, our kindergarten program is inquiry and play based. Children learn by doing hands-on activities based on their interests. I love this method of teaching and try to do as much hands-on work as possible in any grade that I teach.
During our community helpers unit, I decided to create some hands-on centers filled with the tools and materials each community helper would use to do their job. I created posters telling a little bit about each of the helpers. A link to these free posters, is at the bottom of this post.
The centers give children the chance to play and pretend to be different community helpers and explore the tools that they use. For me, I feel that this is the best way for them to learn.
I have accumulated quite a collection of toys and learning materials over the years. Both from my own children and passed onto me from other teachers. If you want to create community helper centers, you don’t have to use the same supplies as I did. Use what you have.
Setting Up the Community Helpers Centers
I started by putting a collection of materials related to each community helper into a bin. Each bin focused on one community helper.
I chose helpers that I knew I had materials for and ones that children had shown an interest it, but any community helper would work.
I also used a video for one group to watch that focused on a community helper that I did not have enough materials for. This variety of centers worked well.
If there are other community helpers that you are focusing on in your teaching, you can create any variety of centers. Hopefully you can use some of my ideas as a springboard for your own classroom.
I paired children up and they worked together at their assigned center.
There were several children that were immediately drawn to our doctor center. They were really interested in the body model and the other tools.
Make sure to know your group and choose materials that are appropriate for them. Some children did not love seeing the plastic model of the human body. Yet, it does give children an idea of what doctors work with and see in their profession.
Firefighter / Construction Worker
This center ended up being two community helpers mixed together.
The center worked well because we had been talking about mapping our community. Children used the foam puzzle pieces to put together the community and then placed the different people, cars and structures on different places. As they constructed, they felt like construction workers.
Children then pretended to be firefighters as one partner placed a picture of a fire on one place in the community. The other partner then took the firefighter from the firehall and moved the firefighter safely through the streets to the fire to then put it out.
This center was a favourite! Kids love playing and creating with playdough so they loved pretending to be a dentist as they used the dough to create teeth.
After creating the teeth they used the dentist tools to inspect and clean the teeth. It was a great way for children to learn a bit about dentist tools and their job.
You could use wooden blocks, plastic building blocks or any other material for this center. Children started at the center by putting pylons out around their building area.
The construction worker center allowed children to build houses or even towns. Children enjoyed using the pylons to block off their space and wear one of the construction helmets while building.
Another favorite was the chef center. I put baking/cooking materials such as measuring cups and bowls at the center. I then gave children a bin with plastic toy food.
Beyond just playing with the food, I challenged children to think about what dishes they were going to make and then serve. They set places at a table for others to come to their restaurant and try out their food.
Community Helpers Puppets
The puppet center was not focused on one community helper. Rather I used the three puppets that I own that happen to be community helpers.
I brought in my puppet theatre so that children could use the puppets. In their partner groups, one child presented to their partner about the job of a doctor, firefighter or police officer. Using the puppet just makes it more fun!
Community Helpers Free Printables
If you are teaching about community helpers, printable posters for community helpers are a great visual for kids. Subscribe to Hands-On Teaching Ideas to download the free Community Helpers Posters. Click the image below to subscribe.
The posters are slightly different than the pages shown in the activity centers. They are more generic and simply tell about each community helper and are not specific to the materials at the center.
By subscribing you will receive access to my Free Resource Library full of free printable activities and educational products including the posters. When you subscribe you will also receive emails with my latest posts and freebies.
Community Helpers Student Workbooks
Plan your community helpers unit in minutes with my community helpers products. I created these booklets to cover the entire community helpers unit. The booklets have been used successfully in my classroom. Bundle of all 3 products is available.
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Hands-On Teaching Ideas
If you are looking for more activity ideas, below is a collection of my favorite and most popular learning activities.
From more community helper and mapping activities to outdoor education and number talks there is lots to keep kids learning, busy and engaged.