A Hoppin' Good Time: Safety Games for Kids Make Learning Fun

Photo by Amanda Worrall / Stocksy / 1394426
Photo by Amanda Worrall / Stocksy

By Rachel Ward

“What comes after the letter C?”

We’re betting you’ve already started the process of teaching your preschooler alphabet letters or numbers to prep for kindergarten (good job, parents!)—but those ABCs and 123s are also crucial for helping kids learn the basics of safety.

Hopefully your preschooler is already familiar with your name and phone number in case they get lost, but there’s another number they should have memorized: 911.

“Introducing preschoolers to the basics of safety, such as knowing when and how to call 911, is just as important as teaching them early science and math skills, social-emotional skills, and literacy,” says Linda Nelson from KinderCare’s Education team.

That’s why in our current unit, our focus is all about health and safety—because we want the kids in our care to be well-prepared for any safety issues they may encounter and to know who to call when they need help.

Enter a fun, safety-themed game of hopscotch!

This Number Game for 5-Year-Olds Teaches Them How to Call 911

Kids get to practice their coordination skills as they hop through a grid, but there’s an added twist: to only hop on squares that are labeled with a one or a nine in honor of that all-important phone number—911.

“We use activities like this in our curriculum because we know that children will remember information more easily when it’s connected to something fun—like a more challenging game of hopscotch,” explains Nelson.

By focusing on identifying specific numbers—one and nine—children are reinforcing what those two numbers look like, making it more likely that should they ever need to dial 911, they’ll find those numbers quickly and easily. Not to mention, they’re also gaining familiarity with the other numbers on the hopscotch grid, which just makes it easier for them when they start kindergarten!

We’re keeping preschoolers learning about safety at our centers, but there’s some easy ways you can do the same at home. Try some of our quick and easy tips!

Keepin’ It Real (Fun): 4 Safety Activities to Do at Home

1. Practice the “stop, drop, and roll” technique

Crucial for fire safety, the “stop, drop, and roll” can make all the difference—and be a really fun game for your high-energy preschooler. Once they have the hang of it, turn it into a spontaneous game you play at odd times, like while watching TV or getting ready for school. When your child remembers the routine at the drop of a hat, they’re more likely to use it if they ever need it.

2. Play “Red Light, Green Light” with a twist

This childhood game is great for introducing preschoolers to the meanings of streetlights. Draw a red circle, yellow circle, and green circle on paper and then cut them out. Play a game of “Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light” by holding up the colored circles instead of calling out directions!

Photo by David Hume Kennerly
Photo by David Hume Kennerly

3. Add safety into pretend play

Spark up a game of pretend play with a hospital, fire station, or police station theme! Join in the fun to help guide your preschooler in developing safety awareness: Has your preschooler encountered some trouble? What number should they call? Is your child a firefighter? What advice do they have for people trying to avoid the fire?

4. Read some books and focus on safety

There are all sorts of ways to add safety into your story time routine. For instance, you could talk about stranger danger as you read Little Red Riding Hood, or the importance of avoiding sharp objects when reading Sleeping Beauty. There are also tons of safety-themed books you can look for, like Watch Out! At Home or  Watch Out! Around Town  by Claire Llewellyn. 

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