By Jodie Lynn
The stats for missing children continue to climb and many times seems to gain numbers for preschoolers. Not having the full details on why this age is so heavily targeted, many parents are extremely concerned. Here is an activity I created to help parents distinguish with their preschoolers just who is a safe person that the children can identify.
Who Is It? A Safety Activity for Preschoolers
We all know that it's our role as parents to do everything we can to insure the safety of our children -- every day in every way. This activity is a good way for you and your kids to work together and have some fun, while at the same time and reinforce -- in a non-threatening way -- your preschooler's awareness of the family-friendly people in her life.
Who Is It?
To help preschoolers develop memory and site recognition of safe family member and friends -- ask them to help you draw pictures of their loved ones. (You will probably do most of the drawing, as manual dexterity is not fully developed in young children until around the age of six.) Note: it is very important to allow your children to do as much of the project as possible, and if you do help, don't focus on perfection! Have fun!
What you'll need to get started:
white construction paper
empty toilet tissue rolls
paper towel rolls
uncooked macaroni and beans
safe washable school glue
scraps of material or felt
giggles, smiles and imagination
Concentrate on one individual each week and never go over four in one month. Family pets are welcome characters to draw as well.
Help the child make a decision of whom they would like to make a life-like doll (drawing). Of course, many will shout, "me!" In addition, many times it will be "you!"-- "mommy!" or "daddy!" Great-- go with the flow. Some will want to draw and decorate the dolls all by themselves. Others will ask for your help. In many instances, it will become a project to do together, i.e., you will be required to possibly begin the drawing of a body and the child will come in with instructions or placements of items.
For example, mommy/daddy will draw a body and "wait" for further instructions. Use the beans for eyes, macaroni for hair, felt or other material for dress or clothes, and for some, the toilet paper or paper towel rolls will be used for a stand up figure. Since preschoolers become frustrated easily, stop the activity if it causes arguments or grief. It can always be picked up at a later time.
The whole object of this activity is not only having educational fun but to ultimately get as many relatives and friends "made" so your child will be able to know a little about each person and who is safe. After each figure has been completed, dry it out, pull it out from time to time, and ask "Who Is It?" The kids will not only enjoy this activity but a giggle game will surely follow as you say, "Yes, this is mommy and I am a safe person for you and I can dance!" Gently shake the doll because as you well know, your preschooler will want to imitate your actions. You can also make police officers, firefighters, etc. Not only will your children learn a wide array of safe people, but also you can add to the activity and use the dolls for all kinds of role-playing in actual storytelling. Keeping your preschoolers safe, healthy and wise is a main stay in any parents mind -- allowing you to keep your sanity and your children smart.
As with any items that require small pieces, monitor and supervise the construction and play at all times. Markers can be used for coloring instead of crayons if they are safe and washable and only if you can always be there for supervision. Store drawings and dolls away in a safe plastic storage container with safe fitting lids (where little fingers cannot open them without help).
Healthy parenting -- and have fun!
Tip: For extra help and to build better family friendly recognition, cut a picture out of the person who the doll is supposed to be and tape it onto a piece of construction paper. Neatly print the person's name above the picture in black marker. Tape or attach with magnets to the refrigerator. When each doll is finished or taken out to play with, the child can match it up with the picture on the fridge. Oval pictures of the person's face works best. This reinforces and encourages the real face, name and good feelings about that person-- or pet. :)
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