Children learn best through play and exploration, so that's why I put together this fun Community Helpers Unit for my grandson. Honestly, we had the best time. Enjoy!
Our month-long adventure began here:
Oodles of reading material!
Note: You can purchase the bookshelf at Pottery Barn. It's perfect for displaying theme-related material. I've had mine for several years and it was well worth the investment.
And now let's take a closer look at each book and how it was incorporated into our Community Helpers Unit. I've also included a few snapshots of our follow-up activities.
I introduced the unit with three picture books. Here are the first two:
Pictured on the left:
What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry
Shows and tells what busy people do every day to build houses, sail ships, fly planes, keep house, and grow food.
Pictured on the right:
All Through My Town by Jean Reidy
Illustrations by Leo Timmers
Bread is baking
School bus honks its horn
Who are the people in your neighborhood?
Perfect for the pre-K set, this adorable rhyming text takes a walking tour of your community. The fresh modern art of Leo Timmers features hidden details and a perennial theme reminiscent of Richard Scarry. Little ones will beg to re-read again as they discover the characters who repeat throughout the art in this sweet and vibrant story.
And here's the third picture book. I'm sure you recognize these familiar characters:
The Berenstain Bears: Jobs Around Town
By Stan and Jan Berenstain w/ Mike Berenstain
Searching for the perfect job, the Bear siblings learn to celebrate the many talents of others and begin to imagine where their own God-given gifts will take them as they grow.
(Click here to order the plush dolls.)
I also added these dress-up clothes to the play area:
(You can find them at your local Barnes & Noble.)
And here are the picture books that we read to highlight Construction Workers:
Pictured on the top left:
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker
Illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld
As the sun sets behind the big construction site, all the hardworking trucks get ready to say goodnight. One by one, Crane Truck, Cement Mixer, Dump Truck, Bulldozer, and Excavator finish their work and lie down to rest—so they'll be ready for another day of rough and tough construction play! With irresistible artwork by best-selling illustrator Tom Lichtenheld and sweet, rhyming text, this book will have truck lovers of all ages begging for more.
And check out the book trailer:
Pictured on the bottom left:
Roadwork by Sally Sutton
Illustrations by Brian Lovelock
There are many big machines and busy people involved in building a road, and this riveting board book follows them every step of the way. From clearing a pathway (screek!) to rolling the tar (squelch!) to sweeping up at the end (swish!), Roadwork is sure to delight young truck-lovers with its rambunctious rhymes and noisy fun.
Load the dirt. Load the dirt. Scoop and swing and drop. Slam it down into the truck. Bump! Whump! Whop!
Pictured on the bottom right:
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
A modern classic that no child should miss. Since it was first published in 1939, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel has delighted generations of children. Mike and his trusty steam shovel, Mary Anne, dig deep canals for boats to travel through, cut mountain passes for trains, and hollow out cellars for city skyscrapers -- the very symbol of industrial America. But with progress come new machines, and soon the inseparable duo are out of work. Mike believes that Mary Anne can dig as much in a day as one hundred men can dig in a week, and the two have one last chance to prove it and save Mary Anne from the scrap heap. What happens next in the small town of Popperville is a testament to their friendship, and to old-fashioned hard work and ingenuity.
And check out the craft we made. There's no end to the ideas you can find online:
I added the stop sign to our dress-up and toy area:
And here's what I used to highlight a Doctor Community Helper:
Pictured on the top left:
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
As soon as they say good night to Mama, the five little monkeys start to jump on their bed. But trouble lies ahead as, one by one, they fall off and hurt themselves.
(Click here to purchase the monkey puppets.)
Pictured on the top right:
We listened to one of our favorite Baby Genius CDs. It has a rockin' version of the song No More Monkeys (Jumping on the Bed.)
Pictured on the bottom left:
The Doctor is In! by Gordon Laite Bubble Guppies)
Nickelodeon's Bubble Guppies find out about doctors and hospitals in this full-color Little Golden Book that sure to entertain boys and girls ages 2-5.
And check out the physician's case we made:
(Another great item to add to our dress-up and toy area!)
Note: You'll need a file folder, black construction paper, tape, and a few key items. Click on the photo for details.
It's a Firefighter Community Helper! We read this picture book first:
Going to the Firehouse by Mercer Mayer
Whoosh! goes the water hose. Ooo! Eee! Ooo! goes the siren. Ding! Ding! goes the fire alarm.
Little Critter and his classmates are taking a trip to the firehouse! Little Critter puts on his boots and jacket—now he's ready to help Fireman Joe. After checking the hose and ladder, Little Critter is ready for a fireman's helmet of his own. Join Little Critter as he learns to stop, drop, and roll with Fireman Joe!
And I made this colorful file folder game that included a paper doll and sequencing activity:
Click on these links for printouts:
Little Firefighter Pattern Cards
Paper Doll Firefighter
Note: I created the cover on my computer with simple clipart.
I introduced a Teacher Community Helper during Teacher Appreciation Week:
Pictured on the left:
Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard
Illustrations by James Marshall
The kids in Room 207 were misbehaving again. Spitballs stuck to the ceiling. Paper planes whizzing through the air. They were the worst-behaved class in the whole school.
So begins this quirky classic, first published in 1977 and still relevant today as a lighthearted reminder to show our appreciation to those we value. The students don’t proffer a shred of respect for their good-natured teacher Miss Nelson, but when the witchy substitute Miss Viola Swamp appears on the scene, they start to regret their own wicked ways. James Marshall’s scritchy, cartoonish full-color ink and wash illustrations are hilarious. A back-to-school perennial!
Note: I can't tell you how much my grandson enjoyed this book!
Pictured on the right:
The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing
Illustrations by Julie Durrel
'Twas the night before kindergarten,
and as they prepared,
kids were excited,
and a little bit scared.
It's the first day of school! Join the kids as they prepare for kindergarten, packing school supplies, posing for pictures, and the hardest part of all—saying goodbye to Mom and Dad. But maybe it won't be so hard once they discover just how much fun kindergarten really is! Colorful illustrations illuminate this uplifting takeoff on the classic Clement C. Moore Christmas poem.
And here's our follow-up activities:
(Chalk writing and paper airplanes!)
I also found this cute video on how to make paper airplanes:
And don't forget to take the chalk and paper airplanes outside:
It's a Baker Community Helper! I had to include one of our favorite Sesame Street characters:
Baker, Baker, Cookie Maker by Linda Hayward
Illustrations by Tom Brannon
Cookie Monster is baking loads of his favorite cookies at the Sesame Street Bakery. But the tasty treats get gobbled up so fast by his friends—Elmo, Big Bird, Grover, Bert, Ernie, and the others—that Cookie never even gets to taste them! Will he ever get to eat one of his own cookies?
Lots of humor and catchy rhyming text in this Step 2 graded reader will send toddlers away laughing every single time.
Note: You can find the Cookie Monster plush toy at Wal-Mart. It doesn't include the plastic cookie, though.
We also read this popular board book:
The Best Mouse Cookie by Laura Numeroff
Illustrations by Felicia Bond
Join the mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie as he bakes his own cookies in his little mouse house.
And I found this entertaining video called Anthony's Adventure: Making Bread:
Ben watched it four times!
We followed up this portion of the unit by making strawberry cheesecake muffins, carrot cake and bread:
I highly recommend Fleischmann’s Simply Homemade Products, especially if you’re working with toddlers. We made the Country White Bread and it was simple and delicious!
If I were still teaching preschool, I would have had a mini bake sale in my classroom. Wouldn't that be fun? Yum!
It's a Mailman Community Helper!
I put an interesting twist on this portion of the unit:
Earth to Clunk by Pam Smallcomb
Illustrations by Joe Berger
What do you send your alien pen pal Clunk to make it clear you do not want an alien pen pal? You send him your big sister. That'll teach Clunk to have a pen pal from Earth-or so our intrepid narrator thinks. But then Clunk sends him a Zoid, an exasperating Zoid that follows him everywhere. After swapping dirty socks, three Forps, some old lasagna, a weird glob, and a string of Christmas lights, our hero seems to be having . . . could it be . . . fun? But then: Clunk stops sending stuff. Oh no! Earth to Clunk . . . ? Is he too busy being bossed around by our hero's big sister? Will her ever send another package again? Maybe-or maybe not. More hilarious surprises await!
After reading this story, we wrote a letter to Clunk and made this mail carrier bag:
And then it was off to the mailbox:
Later that evening...
I secretly made this "Zoid" and packed it in a shipping box:
The doorbell rang on Monday morning...
It was a surprise package from Clunk! And now Ben has his very own Zoid; it follows him everywhere.
I hope you enjoyed reading about our little adventure. You can find more picture book activities in the sidebar of this blog. Have a great weekend!