Broaden your child’s world view starting with the community around them with this neighborhood-themed lesson plan. This week, your child will develop art and music appreciation and math, science, and language skills while learning about their hometown, the post office, and the fire station. 🚒
Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for kids ready for more) and modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) or minus (-) symbols.
What you need:
Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):
- Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney
- Keat’s Neighborhood by Ezra Jack Keats
- The Berenstain Bears Visit the Firehouse by Mike Berenstain
- Owney: The Mail-Pouch Pooch by Mona Kerby OR A Lucky Dog: Owney, U.S. Rail Mascot by Dirk Wales
Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):
- paper + access to a printer (don’t have one? we like this model)
- laminator + laminator sheets (optional, but recommended for repeating lessons)
- clear drying, non-toxic glue (we like this glue + glue stick set)
- hole puncher
- string or yarn
- card stock
- paper bag
- construction paper
- sidewalk chalk
What to do:
We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!
Start by reading Me on the Map. Show your child where you live now on a map of the US (you can print this one) or the world (you can print this one). Show them where they were born (if it’s different from where they are now), where you (and their other parent, if applicable) were born and have lived, and the places you have traveled. Talk about where family members live. This is a great time to tell them stories about your life, how you met your partner, etc.
Activity 1: Where Do I Live? Craft
Activity 2: Learn My Address Song – Practice this throughout the week until your child has it memorized.
Activity 3: Learn the Continents – Plus, don’t miss our Instagram video with a song that will help your child memorize all seven continents!
Keat’s Neighborhood is a collection of children’s books by Ezra Jack Keats. Talk about the pictures in these stories that depict city living. Compare and contrast what your child sees in these photos to your own neighborhood. Do you live in a busy area with many traffic lights or a few? Apartments or houses? Wall murals? In the story A Letter to Amy, Peter walks to mail his letter in the mail box? Do you walk in your neighborhood or drive? In the story Goggles! Peter has a secret hideout he’s made with a friend in this neighborhood. Do you have a hideout or clubhouse or treehouse? Instead of reading all these stories, look at the illustrations and find similarities and differences between the neighbor you live and the ones being illustrated in these stories. Then read the story or stories that are most engaging to your child.
Activity 1: Take a walk around your neighborhood and have a scavenger hunt with this printable checklist.
Activity 2: Practice writing with map work
Activity 3: Make a treasure hunt for letters and site words. Modify this activity to meet your child where they are. If they are learning letters, hide only letters. If they are learning site words, hide words. If they are learning to spell site words, then follow the directions as they are written in the blog and hide letters that form the site words.
Read The Berenstain Bears Visit the Firehouse. Then teach your child about calling 9-1-1 in an emergency. (This article has great tips for having a non-scary conversation.) Explain what an emergency is and show them how to use your cell phone to dial for help and what they would say. If you are able, visit your local fire house. Firefighters love it when families come by and say hello.
Activity 1: Printable Fire Truck Number Puzzle
Activity 2: Learn Your Phone Number Song + Activity – Knowing your phone number is another important way a child can help themselves if they get lost or need help. This easy-to-remember tune and fun activity helps them memorize your number while also reinforcing number recognition.
Activity 3: Fire Safety and Prevention. You know that we don’t love busy worksheets so don’t use these worksheets as intended. If your child is ready for copywork, have them work on the writing practice. Use the Fire Safety for Me and Things I Play With worksheet to discuss fire safety rules. This would be a good time to demonstrate writing for your child. Let them see you write the answers they give you.
Read the Owney story. There are several books that tell his story, so feel free to use whatever you can find at the library or get quickly online. We have linked two different versions above for reference. This incredible story takes you and your child across the United States. Use a map of the country to travel right along with Owney.
Activity 1: Print Your Own Postcards Craft – Have your child write (or pretend to write) their own postcards. Then you can mail them at the post office or hand deliver to a neighbor.
(+)Practice writing your own address.
Activity 2: Take a trip to your local post office (drive-bys are fine, too!). If you are walking, count the mailboxes you see on your way there. Play I Spy and look for delivery trucks. Try to meet your local post office worker and have your child introduce themselves. Be sure to thank them for all their hard work!
Review day! Re-read the books your child especially enjoyed, and practice performing the address song.
Activity 1: Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin by Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh made friends with this postman, and he ended up being in a lot of his paintings. Show your child the painting and talk about the colors, shapes, and mood of this picture. Ask: What do you they talked about while he was painting him? Talk about the way he was able to make his beard look so real and his use of bright colors or his brush strokes. Here are some more tips for talking about Van Gogh’s work.
(Tip: Don’t feel like you need to read the linked article to your child—that’s a reference for you so that you can talk more freely about the subject. And don’t worry if your child asks a question you don’t know the answer to—tell them you will find out and let them know. (+) If an older child wants to help you find the answer, do a little research and see what you can learn together.)
Activity 2: Build a house with a paper bag and some construction paper.
(+) When the house is done, save it for next week! We’ll be comparing these houses to traditional Native homes you’ll model in our Native Peoples Unit.
Psst! We want to see your little architect’s creation! Post a photo of your house on Instagram with #learnandliveletter and tag us, and we’ll re-share our favorites!
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