The transition to 'big school' is such an important time for our preschoolers! There will be so many changes in their daily routine and we need to prepare them for some of these.
Many children will catch the school bus and cross the road without mum and dad for the first time- and so road safety becomes an urgent issue. Here are some activities to help prepare your transition group (or your own child at home) for keeping safe around traffic.
For the song activity- plenty of floor space, chalk, some big push-along vehicles if you have them.
For the extension- black cardboard, red, orange and green cellophane, paste, a round touch light or torch for the traffic lights; white cardboard and a red marker for the stop sign.
For the play activities- a roll or five of masking tape (depends how many kids get into this!), scissors, toy cars and buses and trucks and people, car mats or long blocks or big sheets of cardboard.
Preparation for the song activity:
Find a space where you can line up some kids (say 6) holding hands and still have enough room to walk forwards about six steps (so you need a big square- go outdoors if there's not enough room inside). Make a line to show the edge of the 'road' using chalk in front of where the kids will wait to 'cross'. Then draw a pedestrian crossing using the chalk, about six kid-steps wide, add a dotted line for the centre of the road, and draw another line for the far side of the road. Line up your big cars and trucks (if you have them) on the correct sides of the road so they can come from both ways.
Teach the children a road-crossing song. The one I know goes:
Stop at the kerb,
Look to the right,
Look to the left,
Look to the right again-
Then if the road is clear of traffic
Walk straight across the road- don't run!
Walk straight across the road.
(NB- of course if your traffic goes the other way you reverse and sing left-right-left- this is an Australian song!)
(And apologies for the visual qualities of that video!! I spent this morning on rather exhausting farm activities- should have combed my hair before I started blogging!!)
Then as you sing the song, act it out in small groups while some children operate the big vehicles. Remember, some vehicles will not stop at a pedestrian crossing! Help the children to be watchful and LOOK even if there are lines on the road.
I refreshed this song with them every week or so, and they never seemed to tire of it. (Especially of the chance to operate one of those naughty cars!)
Extension: You can extend this game by making a big STOP sign for a child to hold as 'lollipop lady' and stop the traffic, or you can even make a red, green and yellow traffic light for the cars- cut out circles in a sheet of black cardboard, then paste a sheet each of red, orange and green cellophane over the holes. Supply your little operator with a touch light or torch to shine through the holes to make the traffic stop, slow or go. You can do the same with a 'walk' light for the pedestrians by cutting out two 'people' shapes and covering them with red and green cellophane- you could even use one of those little torches that flashes behind the red man to be even more realistic. Have fun!
Free play activities: Show the children how you marked out the big road, then supply them with the little vehicles, people and masking tape / scissors so they can make their own small scale 'road safety' activities. If your kids like to make roads out of long blocks, show them how to put strips of tape on the blocks for a crossing (or you can use a washable marker if you're up for it)- or you can add crossings to your car mat, or make your own car mat on a big sheet of cardboard.
I found that if I started them off with a tiny bit of road which had the appropriate dimensions for the vehicles and people (and of course you can make this into a problem-solving activity in itself if you like to hand over more of the task to them), they 'took off' and made a whole road network around block corner with multiple crossings and 'people' waiting everywhere! The kids played with this literally for WEEKS. (Warning- the longer you leave masking tape stuck to floors and carpets, the harder it is to get off!)
We also did specific 'getting off the bus' activities using our little bus and the little people. I got the kids to put their faces down on the ground to 'see what the little people can see- can they see that car coming? What can you see from down there?'
Remember that children of this age have great difficulty seeing abstract perspectives- you have to be concrete and put them INTO the little person's situation if you want them to understand that you just can't see a car coming from behind a bus and need to wait till the bus leaves before you cross.
The best reinforcement of all, of course, is to then get out into the real world and practise on a real road- a challenge for your next excursion?
And to web out from this in your programming, what happens if a car really does hit someone? Off you go into hospitals, doctors, dress-ups, role-play, anatomy, skeletons... have fun!