Note: This post includes testimonials from a lovely grade 1 teacher who has shared her experiences with me using this unit with her in-person class, as well as my own thoughts, tips and suggestions! xo-Tina
Community Helpers are Here For Us!
Have your kiddos noticed the news reports about Community Helpers lately? Mine sure have! With Covid struggles happening throughout the world, a large focus is on the people who help keep the community running despite the national emergency that is taking place. We need these essential workers now more than ever!
News reports are filled with the front-line workers such as doctors, nurses, teachers and police officers. They are protecting us, caring for the sick, and providing us with our basic needs. Despite having these roles before Covid, their heroism has been highlighted and acknowledged recently. These community helpers put others before themselves. They go to work when the rest of us stay at home to keep safe. What would this disaster be like without them? We appreciate them now more than ever!
We often discuss heroes with our students but they are often specific, significant people rather than a group as a whole. Heroes for our students are also mostly superheroes like Batman and the Paw Patrol – right? Or Canadian heroes like Terry Fox. I took this opportunity to focus on Community Helpers as the heroes in our community. It is important too, for them to realize that there are other Community Helpers that help keep daily life running smoothly and not just those in the media all the time. I included this in our class discussion while teaching Tina’s Community Helpers Unit
How I introduced the topic:
To introduce this topic, I used discussion prompts to encourage discussion about what a community is. I like to record ideas on an anchor chart so my students have a reference for later activities.
We read Franklin’s Neighborhood by P. Bourgeois and brainstormed different enjoyable community places.
My kiddos loved drawing, labelling and writing about their community.
What do communities need?
We identified what communities need to stay healthy and safe. We referred not only to those community helpers that are so beneficial now but also those that help us when there isn’t a national emergency. My students enjoyed matching the buildings and needs using the digital resource that is included in the unit.
What are Natural and Built Features in a Community?
I introduced the idea of natural and built features in the community. We brainstormed different features and discussed why they are important to our community.
We used a variety of “What if” prompts to identify the importance of the different features and community helpers.
I included “What if” prompts to encourage students to think about if the features were not there. A blank version has also been included for differentiation. (It would be fun to let students think of their own feature and how it impacts the community.)
How can we help the community?
Some students may feel helpless knowing that this terrible virus is out there and they can’t do anything to help.
We read Helping Out is Cool by Ellen Feinman Moss. We discussed ways we could help out in the community.
I loved the ideas that came out of the discussion and the helping that had already occurred.
One of my students told the class how she asked for cat food for her birthday and donated it to the local shelter – what a sweetheart!
The craftivity gave my students the opportunity to plan out an action to help the community. They were proud of their ideas and many vowed to put them in place.
Learning about people in our community
My students had a wonderful time reciting Jobs in the Dell. There was great excitement in choosing hats and chanting along.
I chose to allocate a community helper to each student and they brainstormed the given community helpers’ roles in groups. It was great to hear their ideas and everyone had something to share.
Mapping our community
This unit also includes a section on mapping. It is interactive and my students had a lot of fun. “I loved making the city on the map,” replied one of the boys after being asked for feedback on the Community Helpers Unit.
The best final project
The final project was a class effort. Students worked together to create their own classroom community. They enjoyed gathering plastic bottles, boxes and recyclable items to create their community buildings. This brought their attention to reusing materials – we were able to discuss how this benefits our community as well.
The project turned out great. Students had a visual that they were proud of and were able to tell their parents about. In a normal year, we would invite parents in to see the community after school, I look forward to doing this in future years! We also love inviting the SK’s in to have a sneak peek of what they can look forward to when they are big grade ones. Again, this year we could not, but I shared photos through our Google Classroom community and parents were able to see our hard work!
A bonus, it’s offered digitally too!
Whether you are doing remote learning, full time back at school, hybrid, or something else- this unit will benefit your students. While I taught it primarily in class, I used some of the digital materials during the school closure period and it was very easy to switch back and forth between the two. I was also able to send some of the poems home with students who were home for a variety of reasons and wanted something to keep up with.
If you would like to include this unit in your planning and teaching, you can find it here.
If you used it, I would love to hear what your student’s favourite activity in this unit was. So, please leave a comment below!
Note from Tina: A big thanks to the lovely grade 1 teacher who shared her in class experience with me for this post .
If you have used a unit of mine and loved it, feel free to reach out and share your experience- I love to feature different grades and experiences! (TinasTeachingTreasures@gmail.com) .