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Community Helpers and the Letter Pp

This week is brought to you by the letter P. We're not only introducing the letter P and our Zoo Phonic friend PeeWee Penguin, but we're learning how to hold a pencil and about some of the community helpers, including police and postal workers. Over the next few weeks we will learn about additional community helpers, fire safety and personal safety.

How to Hold a Pencil

Throughout the school year, we have students practice writing their names, but we don't expect that most of them will be proficient at this until later in the school year, or sometimes closer to the end of the year. It takes time to build up the finger dexterity and strength to properly hold a pencil. This is why it's important to provide your child with opportunities to work on fine motor skills occasionally. For those who may need a little extra help learning how to properly hold a pencil, I included a video below of my version of Handwriting Without Tears' "The Crayon Song." I changed the lyrics to be more pencil-specific, but the tune is the same. In fact, it may be helpful to start with a fat crayon, then transition to a short golf pencil before practicing with a regular pencil as the regular pencil's length can be unwieldy  for small fingers. Once your child can hold a pencil (or crayon, etc.) properly, you can have her practice tracing then writing her name and other shapes. Remember, learning how to write one's name independently without help, and while holding the writing utensil correctly usually takes lots of practice, so it's not necessarily cause for concern if it doesn't come naturally to your child.

Zoo Phonic Friend: PeeWee Penguin

PeeWee Penguin, our zoo friend of the week, is perfect for our Winter lessons this month. A video about penguins is included below, as well as a link to our Zoo Phonic handout and a Cosmic Kids Yoga workout about Pedro the Penguin. Enjoy!

PeeWee Penguine.jpg

Community Helpers

There are many types of community helpers in our daily lives, ranging from police officers, to firefighters, postal workers, restaurant staff, teachers, sanitation workers, doctors, nurses, veterinarians.... While we each have a role to play in helping others in our neighborhood, community helpers typically are professional helpers. They keep us safe, healthy and fed.


There are many playful ways you can learn about the various types of community helpers, but there's a lot of information that could potentially be covered. We try not to not overwhelm them with too much detail or too many helpers in one day. Instead, we try to spread the following categories of helpers out over a few weeks:

  • Neighborhood Community Helpers (garbage collectors, mail carriers, news reporters)

  • Safety Community Helpers (lifeguard, military, firefighters, police officers)

  • Builders and Fixers (painter, mechanic, construction worker, carpenter, plumber)

  • Transportation Community Helpers (pilot, train conductor, bus driver, astronaut, flight attendant)

  • Food Community Helpers (gardener, chef, farmer, baker)

  • School Community Helpers (coach, teacher, crossing guard, librarian, janitor)

  • Health Helpers (dentist, veterinarian, nurse, doctor)


In our classrooms, we like to set-up centers. At the post office station, the students can practice writing "letters" and putting them in the mail to deliver to their friends. We also like to include a veterinary station so our students can practice taking care of stuffed animals with toy medical supplies (cloth bandages, a toy stethoscope, cotton balls, a thermometer, pictures of x-rays, etc.). We typically bring in guest speakers during this unit as well, but we can't exactly do that right now. There are some wonderful videos online, though, to teach about helpers. including the one about police officers I posted below. There are some fun games you can play to help learn about postal workers, or craft templates and books you could print for free. It could also be fun for you and your child to go on a walk around town and discuss the different professions people have and the many ways in which they help us.

I can't help but think about the events from the past year, where some of these helper professions ended up in the news and it may be difficult knowing what, if anything, to say to your kids about it. Sometimes, though, kids hear about what's going on despite our best efforts to shelter them from potentially scary events. In these times, I like to remember Mr. Rogers' quote about "look[ing] for the helpers." There are indeed always helpers.

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