Mother, May I … Jump Into the Pool?
What You Need: A large Hula-Hoop, a parent or other adult volunteer
What To Do: PreK teacher Deborah Stewart of the Teach Preschool Children’s Studio in Noblesville, Indiana, has found a way to practice water safety without access to a pool. All you need is a Hula-Hoop, and an adult volunteer. First, talk about pool safety rules, such as no running around the pool and never going in the water unless an adult is nearby. To play the game, says Stewart, lay the Hula-Hoop in the center of the room. Have your volunteer stand on one side of the hoop, and ask a student to stand on the opposite side, about five feet away. Then have the children chant, “Mother, Mother, may I jump into the pool?” The volunteer should say, “Not until I am with you—that’s the rule!” Next, the adult takes a step closer to the hoop and the children repeat the chant. With each repetition, the parent takes one step closer. When the parent gets to the edge of the hoop (or inside of it), he or she modifies the chant to say, “Yes, I am here with you. Hooray! You followed the rule!” At that point, the child can jump into the “pool.”
Paint On the Sunscreen
What You Need: Colored construction paper, markers, paintbrushes, sunblock
What To Do: Before you head to the pool, don’t forget sunscreen! Stewart also suggests an art activity that helps students visualize the importance of protecting themselves from the sun’s rays. Distribute a piece of construction paper to each student. Have them use a marker to draw an outline of themselves on the paper. Then, using sunscreen as “paint,” students should slather it on their figures with the brush. As they work, talk about the importance of wearing sunblock. Invite kids to predict what will happen if they go outside without it. Take a trip outside after students are done painting. Place the paintings in direct sunlight for several hours, then stop by later in the day and take notice of the difference in color. “Anyplace the sunscreen was not painted should be faded by the sunlight,” says Stewart. “I tell kids that the sunscreen protects the original color of the construction paper, just like it protects our skin.”
First Aid to Go
What You Need: Plastic zip bags, stick-on labels, sample-size first-aid supplies
What To Do: Teacher Amanda Berg has her students make their own first-aid kits at St. John’s Lutheran Preschool in Wood Lake, Minnesota. She hands out plastic zip bags or small plastic containers. On each one, she sticks a first-aid-kit label. (You might choose to use a blank label and have students draw a red plus sign. Talk about what this symbol means.) Then, using supplies she has purchased or collected, Berg hands out first-aid items, including bandages, hand sanitizer, antibiotic ointment, gauze pads, and antiseptic wipes. “I hand out each item one at a time, and they add it to their kits. As I hand out each item, we discuss how it can be used and what it might treat,” says Berg. “I also include a summer safety checklist.” As summer approaches, Berg encourages students to keep the kit in their family’s car or beach bag. Short on supplies? See if the school nurse has any extras or solicit donations from a local pharmacy.
Community Safety Helpers
What You Need: Volunteers from your community
What To Do: Berg’s students learn about a different kind of safety each day of the week for one week. To try this with your class, tap into the summer safety helpers in your community. For bike safety day, you might contact your police department about hosting a bike clinic. For water safety day, reach out to the YMCA to see if a lifeguard can visit your class and talk about the rules of the pool. For sun safety day, invite a nurse or EMT to talk about the importance of sunscreen and hydration. To encourage a home-school connection, send a letter home in advance of summer safety week to see if families can connect you with any community helpers who would be willing to visit your class.
Fill It Up!
What You Need:Water bottles or cups, glue, decorations
What To Do: The summer heat can be dangerous, especially for very young kids. Laura Anderson, a prekindergarten teacher at Franklin Special School District in Tennessee, has found a way to beat the heat. She begins by reading the book Today Is Hot by Martha Rustad, using the book as a jumping-off point to discuss the importance of staying hydrated. “I tell students that we have to take precautions by drinking lots of water before we go out. We should drink more water while we’re outside, and we need to drink even more after we come inside,” she says. (The emphasis is on water, as sugary drinks have the opposite effect, removing water from the body.) As a fun reminder, Anderson allows students to decorate their own cups or bottles and makes kids responsible for filling up when they run low.