Our Montessori-inspired unit on community helpers, or the unsung heroes which keep the neighbourhood clean and safe, would be timely for starting a new school year.
We did ours when we first moved to London, and connected a field trip to the Fire Station in Singapore with a field trip to the London Transport Museum..
And a train…
They saw vintage trains and even a London cab up close..
They went around all three floors collecting a total of 13 transport-related stamps from machines that they could operate themselves…
They liked that almost as much as the real ticketing machine…
And had a blast in the make-believe area, where they could dress up as train conductors and make announcements over the PA.
These were some activities I came up with for our Community Helpers unit:
2. Neighbourhood map
To introduce them to our new neighbourhood and building on Dylan’s love for maps, I printed a map of our neighbourhood, laminated it, modelled how to search for community landmarks Tube station, hospital, post office etc. I gave them chalk markers to trace the routes.
Best part is, they had just as much fun wiping it off!
Related activities: Making a galaxy using IKEA nesting cups and Comparing UK and Singapore through land and water forms.
3. Three-part cards with Community Helper toobs
I had been eyeing these toobs for ages but it was near-impossible to get hold of in Singapore, so I just had to order some in the U.K. I downloaded free three-part cards made by Lyn Hzb, a homeschooling mum of four, to go with the toobs.
These cards have gotten so much mileage! The children could match the toob cards to the pictures of actual occupations (note: a white background is usually preferred but I think the whole image is quite useful in this case as you get a sense of the tools and environment associated with each community helper. Three-part card tutorial here, based on what I learnt from AMI).
Or they could match the toob figurines to the toob cards…
Dylan could match the initial sound to each card using this cursive movable alphabet (fridge alphabet magnets will do just fine but read about the benefits of cursive here).
And match the corresponding emergency vehicle to each occupation e.g. fireman with fire engine.
Lyn just did a new set to go with the World Landmarks toob that she is happy to share with us. Thank you Lyndsey!
4. Recycling small world play
Small world play also allows children a way to exert control over miniature surroundings. Here, the children are learning about eco-consciousness through exploring a recycling truck and bin set.
I taped a little recycling sign on the wooden box, to give them a clue as to what was inside…
And it all packs up neatly into the box, which the children love locking. More pictures here.
5. Sorting the recycling
We used this free recycling printable from Living Montessori Now and collected our garbage for a week, and had the children sort them into recycling categories: cans, glass, paper, plastic.
There was no better way to finish off than to show them the recycling bins in our neighbourhood, and once again sensitive them to the idea that signs have meanings. Now, whenever we pass by Dylan asks me to read out the signs one by one.
6. Mailing a postcard
We got some scribbling and mark-making in (important pre-literacy prep but without any of the academic pressure) by setting up a mailing centre, with some London postcards chosen by Dyl for his friends and grandparents back in Singapore.
(Parking this picture of this mailing centre toy we found during our trip to Germany for inspiration)
7. Book Ambulance
I saw this wonderful idea here, so without making it too literal, I set up a basket where the children could place torn or damaged books, and repair them. I try not to replace books as I want the children to learn how to respect them and not take them (or replacements) for granted. It seems to be working as recently Dylan tore a brand new book by accident, and burst into tears.. then he said, “mama I have a good idea. Why don’t I take the scotch tape and stick it back?”
Anyway, that week, we had to clean the chalk marker strokes off one book and scotchtape another torn book.
Then I explained that just as paramedics care for sick people in an ambulance, we have to care for our books. Read about how to choose quality Montessori-friendly books here.
Leaving you with a few more pictures of the children working, because it gives me such joy ❤️
Check out our other unit studies here!