Community helpers and careers plans go together. For younger students, you may focus more on the community helpers aspect, recognizing the grownups in their neighborhoods, while older students may focus more on the jobs they might choose to hold when they grow up. We think it’s a continuum, with an imaginary sliding bar that lets you mix in a little more “Your Friend the Police Officer” or a little more “You can be a police officer” till you get just the right mixture for your class.
Here are some books we like for this study:
- Helpers in My Community by Bobbie Kalman. Kalman is very good at clear presentations of information, and has done quite a few books on community helpers — explore a bit if you click through to check out that book.
- A Day in the Life of a Doctor by Heather Adamson. Adamson is another good kids’ nonfiction writer, and this book is one in a series — she also does a day in the life of a teacher, firefighter, EMT, and more.
- Cool Careers for Girls as Crime Solvers is a representative book from the Cool Careers series. This series is great for older students who are beginning to think about what they’ll be when they grow up. So often, kids only know about the basic “community helpers” group and don’t think about being a marine biologist, a sports therapist, or a video game designer, but somebody has to do it, right?
- Jobs People Do from Usborne looks at a lot of different career options.
- Officer Buckle & Gloria (Caldecott Medal Book) by Peggy Rathmann is a romp of a book which can lead to discussions of safety as well as of community helpers.
- First Day Jitters is a terrific book for the first day of school. It follows the protagonist of the book through all the nervousness of the first day at a new school and getting ready and worrying about whether the kids will like her — and only at the end does the reader learn that the heroine of the piece is a teacher. Use this to talk about teachers as community helpers.
- My Teacher Sleeps in School is another good one for thinking about teachers. If you teach younger grades, you know how amazed students are at the idea that you have a life — or even a home — outside the classroom. This book takes that idea and makes it funny to the kids, too.
- Whose Hat Is This?: A Look at Hats Workers Wear – Hard, Tall, and Shiny is a fun concept book for younger kids.
- What Color Is Your Parachute? For Teens is our favorite book for helping kids think seriously about their future careers.
Here are some fun things for your classroom:
- Community Helpers/Careers Pocket Flash Cards
- Community Hat Collection
- Lego Community Workers
- Learning Resources Community Pocket Chart
- Hometown Heroes: Fire Truck Rescue
Here’s a critical thinking exercise that can follow discussions of what different jobs are like:
Careers Logic Puzzle
Five friends planned what careers they would have when they grew up. Alex planned to be an astronaut, Byron wanted to be a basketball star, Camisha wanted to be a carpenter, Darcy meant to be a doctor, and Elena wanted to be an engineer. They met again when they were all adults, and not one had chosen exactly the job they planned on when they were kids.
Read the clues and use the chart to figure out which friend took which job.
1. Camisha wears a uniform.
2. Byron drives a special car.
3. Alex works extra hard in the summer.
4. Elena asks questions at work.
5. Byron sometimes works at night.
What job would you like to have when you grow up?
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