Teaching Young Children about Community

Teaching young children about communities is beneficial for a number of reasons:

  • It helps children recognize the importance of communities and the roles people play within communities
  • It helps create a sense of place, familiarity, and security
  • It helps foster stewardship and the knowledge that along with citizenship comes certain responsibilities
  • It helps children recognize and respect cultural diversity

Recommended Book List

  • Building a House by Byron Barton
  • Everybody Works by Shelly Rotner and Ken Kreisler
  • I Read Signs by Tana Hoban
  • On the Town: A Community Adventure by Judith Caseley
  • Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran, illustrated by Barbara Cooney
  • Send It! by Don Carter
  • Supermarket by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Melanie Hope Greenberg
  • The Trip by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Worksong by Gary Paulsen, illustrated by Ruth Wright Paulsen

“My Community” Activities

These activities can help children to think about, explore, and discuss the places where they and their families live. They offer children opportunities to learn about the people who live and work in their communities and the things that make their communities and neighborhoods unique. These activities are part of our Preschool curriculum and are intended for children age 3 and up, with adult supervision. 


Domino Buildings


You Will Need:

  • Dominoes


Invite children to explore building with dominoes, either alone or with another child. If needed, show children how to stand the dominoes up and pretend the dots on the dominoes are the windows of buildings. As the children are working, ask open-ended questions about what they are building or encourage them to count the number of windows on their domino buildings. Or ask children to find buildings that have the same number of windows and put them together to create larger buildings.


Development Insights:

This activity gives children the opportunity to experiment with putting together and taking apart two- and three-dimensional shapes. It helps them practice increased control of hands and fingers, and complete simple activities and tasks independently.


Hammering Golf Tees


You Will Need: 

  • Children’s safety goggles
  • Golf tees
  • Styrofoam® blocks
  • Toy hammers


Gently hammer two or three golf tees into the Styrofoam® blocks so children will have an easier time hammering.



Invite your child to hammer golf tees, either alone or with another child. Ask children if they know what tools are used to build houses and other buildings in communities. Explain that some tools that are used are hammers and nails. If children are familiar with golf tees, ask them how they are used. If not, explain that golfers hit their golf balls from tees. Tees are only used when golfers “tee off” at the start of each hole. Golf courses are also part of some communities, in particular, vacation communities.


Provide children with safety goggles. Demonstrate how to put on the safety goggles and how to safely hammer the golf tees into the Styrofoam® blocks. Suggest children hold a tee with one hand and carefully pound on the tee with the hammer.


Exercise diligent supervision when children handle items with sharp or pointed tips. Ensure children wear safety goggles at all times when hammering.


Development Insights:

This activity helps children learn to use tools for observing, exploring, experimenting, and gathering information. It also provides opportunities to practice increased control of hands and fingers and coordinated eye-hand movements.


Let’s Make a Bus


You Will Need:

  • Items children can use to make a pretend bus outdoors, such as boxes and chairs (optionall)


Invite children to create an imaginary bus with chairs, boxes, or any other materials available that could be used to create a pretend bus. Begin by asking children whether they have ever ridden on a bus. Then explain, “Many communities have buses that people can ride to and from places they need to go. Where might people go on a bus?” After children have shared their ideas, say, “Some buses are only for school children to ride. School buses take children to and from school. Today we will create a pretend school bus.”

Then invite the children to create their own school bus using the materials and their imaginations. Encourage the children to create a bus that will hold all of the children. Afterward, all the children can ride the bus while singing, “The Wheels on the Bus.”


Development Insight:

This activity gives children an opportunity to engage in pretend play, take on make-believe roles and learn to separate fantasy from reality. It also helps children practice coordinating body movements and encourages cooperative group play.


Red Light, Green Light


You Will Need:

  • Construction paper, red, green, and yellow (optional)
  • Scissors (for parent use only)


If using construction paper, cut the paper into large circles to hold up during the game.



Show children the red and green construction paper and explain what these colors mean to people driving. Emphasize that green means “go” and red means “stop.” Explain that the children will play a game of Red Light, Green Light. 

Have children stand facing you. Hold up the green circle of paper and say, “Green light,” while encouraging the children to move toward you. Then hold up the red circle and say, “Red light,” while encouraging children to stop. Continue playing until all children reach you.


To keep the game interesting, choose different movements children can perform while moving toward you, such as skipping or hopping. Or incorporate a yellow light in the game by holding up a yellow circle, which indicates children should move slowly toward you, preparing to stop. As children play, watch to see whether children are following the directions associated with each of the colors.


Development Insight:

This activity promotes the ability to follow more complicated rules independently. Children are given the opportunity to recall information from prior experiences or events, to answer questions and to share information with others. The movement aspect of the game promotes running skills.


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