Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood? – Community Helper Puppets
Around this time of year, once the holidays are behind us, I usually move into a community helpers theme in my preschool class. I think it’s important for every young child to learn about community helpers. These include firefighters, police officers, mail carriers and doctors, but you can expand it to include whomever else you want. Teachers, farmers, chefs, garbage men, astronauts, etc.
We spend about a week on each community helper, learning all about what he or she does and how we can assist those in our community as well. For example, when we talk about firemen, we learn to Stop, Drop and Roll if our clothing catches fire and of course we learn about dialing 911. I try to bring a firefighter in to talk to the class, and sometimes we’re even able to coordinate a field trip to the fire station. I also bring in fireman costumes (leftover from Halloweens past) for the kids to try on.
A really fun kids craft for this unit is to make puppets of the various community helpers with your class. You can make them all at once or each week you can make a puppet for the community helper that you’re learning about that week, and end up with a collection when you’re finished with the unit.
To save time and effort, instead of drawing and cutting out a punch of puppets, start with pre-cut people shapes in whatever size you choose. What I especially love about these people shapes is that they come in a variety of culturally diverse colors, so your students will get the message that community helpers can come from any race or nationality. Let kids draw faces on their puppets. Then work together on the clothing. The easiest way to do this is with pre-cut shirt and pants shapes. Use blue for police officers and mail carriers, red for firefighters, etc. You’ll need to make white lab coats for doctors. Let kids be creative with outfits for other community helpers. Then you and your students can make hats out of colored paper: blue police hats, red fire hats, even helmets for astronauts. If you like, you can also add accessories – handcuffs or badges for police officers, axes or hoses (or even dalmations) for firefighters, books or blackboards for teachers, etc.
When the community helpers and their accessories are all ready, glue or tape a popstick to the back of each kids craft to make puppets out of them. You can use your puppets to act out shows that go with with your community helpers theme or play a matching game where the accessories are laid out on a desk or pinned to a bulletin board and kids come up one at a time and choose an accessory to match to one of their community helpers.
P.S. A great song to sing with your class during this unit is “Who are the people in your neighborhood” from Sesame Street!