Young children are just beginning to discover the world around them. For toddlers and preschoolers, the neighborhood is their world. So, learning signs for the places and people in their neighborhood seems like an important theme.
I had a hard time finding the perfect book or set of books for this theme. Perhaps one day I will try to write a book called, “A Walk Through the Neighborhood.” There were several good books to help teach about each of the places and people in the neighborhood, but finding a good, simple book that included most of the words for the signs I included in this theme was difficult. Perhaps I will come upon one later, or a reader of this blog will share one he or she discovers.
The Post Office Book: Mail and how It Moves shares many details about mail. With young children, looking at the pictures and paraphrasing might be best.
Although I did not use The Jolly Postman with my playgroup, it is a fun read to do one on one with a child. It has fun letters inside the book that can be taken out and read. In our household, my daughter took them all out and now I am not sure they are back in the correct spots, lol.
My three year old loves Froggy Goes To The Doctor, which is a good book to use to introduce or remind a child about doctor’s visits.
This is another book with quite a bit of detail. Depending upon the age range of a playgroup, it might be used to look at the pictures of the different areas of the store and to review food signs.
I would suggest the board book version of Policeman Small because it is much shorter and more manageable for young children.
For those really interested in firefighters, this book contains much information. With its large photos, this book is good for glancing through the pages and sharing some of the information along with practicing the sign for firefighter in a playgroup setting.
All Around Town! : exploring your community through craft fun has several ideas for crafts, songs, and activities to go along with this theme.
GAMES and ACTIVITIES:
For this theme, I set up the room as a walk through the neighborhood. I had the following stations set up:
1. Mailbox: Kids get a chance to play with the mailbox, getting mail, and delivering mail. At this station I share a book about the mail and practice signs for mail/letter, stamp, mail box, and letter carrier.
2. Doctor kit: Children can play with a doctor kit, taking turns being doctor, nurse, and patient. We practice the signs for doctor and nurse.
3. Beanbag/ball toss: I use paper plates as targets. Each paper plate has a person from the neighborhood on it, which are paper dolls found at Making Friends. Each child tosses a bean bag or suction ball onto a plate. Whichever person the ball/bag lands on must be signed. I used firefighter, doctor, nurse, and police officer.
4. Store: For this station, I have a cash register, along with a basket of groceries. Kids take turns using items and we practice the sign for store. Other signs that could be taught include: buy, money, food signs. At this station I may also share a book about the supermarket.
5. Restaurant: A table with dishes, cups, and utensils makes this station. Kids take turns having their orders taken at the restaurant. We practice the sign for restaurant and can also practice food signs and signs for cup, plate, fork, spoon, knife.
6. Library: For this station, we go to the table kids are used to using for stories and we learn the sign for library and read one or two books. I found a magazine with a library scene to use here and read Policeman Small and perhaps share a fireman book. I happen to have some small fire trucks and police cars from kids’ meals that I let the kids play with here as well.
I have some community stencils that I picked up on clearance from Oriental Trading Company that I use for this theme. Another option is having the kids color and/or glue clothes on paper dolls from Making Friends.
1. Signing Time! has two songs appropriate for this theme: “In My Neighborhood” and “My Job.” I usually start the playgroup by watching those two songs on dvd and then end by listening and trying to sign along with one or both at the end of the playgroup. These are found on the My Neighborhood dvd.
2. The All Around Town book mentioned above has two song ideas in it. One is about a policeman and is to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot.” The other is about a postman and is to the tune of “Jingle Bells.”
With every theme, I find pictures of the items we will be learning the signs for, laminate them and hold them up as I teach the signs. These pictures can then be used in various simple games since they are laminated.
If you have found other resources for this theme, please let me know. I would love to add new ideas to each of these themes.
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