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First Aid–Even for First Graders:
Teaching Tips for the Classroom
by Maribeth Boelts
Learning first aid is both important and interesting to children. And it's not hard to
When Kids to the Rescue! first came out, I thought of it as appropriate for 8-12-year-olds, but
since then, I've heard about it being used even with kindergarten and first-grade
students. If a 5-year-old can skip, balance on one foot and write a name, why
shouldn't she be taught to dial 9-1-1? Is there any reason he
shouldn't be taught to apply direct pressure to a cut? As they are learning the
names of the parts of their body, why shouldn't even young children be taught to
take care of these bodies?
What my husband Darwin and I have seen is that kids are excited about learning first aid because
it's one more step in becoming independent. It's also a lesson that
is best taught with hands-on exercises–and what could be more fun? In one Iowa
elementary, groups of third and fourth graders acted out all of first aid situations in Kids to the Rescue!
in a school assembly. Using gauze, tape, a couple of bikes and the
"stove" from the kindergarten classroom—along
with many dramatic expressions—they both amused and instructed their youthful
audience. The actors learned a lot, too.
That doesn't mean you need an acting minor to teach first aid in your class. Nor
do you need any medical training. As a matter of fact, you don't even have to be a
classroom teacher. Written so parents and kids can learn together, Kids to the Rescue! makes first
aid easy to understand and practice regardless of your background. It's also an
excellent refresher course for adults who learned basic first aid years ago. Whether
you're a teacher, the school nurse, or a classroom volunteer, here are some
suggestions on incorporating Kids to the Rescue! in your curriculum. (If you're a
cubmaster, Camp Fire leader, or home-schooling parent, you'll find several ideas
you can use, too.)
- Use Kids to the Rescue! in the science or health units that cover the human body.
- When you're launching a first aid unit, allow time for kids to talk about their
injuries. You'll generate excitement for the material if you let students describe
their casts, stitches, scrapes and emergency room visits.
- Kick off or conclude your first aid unit by inviting a paramedic, firefighter, emergency room
doctor or nurse or a Red Cross volunteer (one of your parents, perhaps?) to speak briefly and
explain his or her first aid supplies.
- If these emergency personnel can't come to you, perhaps you can arrange a field
trip to the local fire station, hospital ER room or emergency dispatch center.
- Borrow that Iowa elementary school's idea and help your students create skits
using the accident situations presented in Kids to the Rescue!. Then invite other classes (or another
Cub Scout or Brownie group) to your presentation. When it's over, let one of
your students dress up as a doctor and test the audience using the quiz at the end of Kids to the Rescue!.
- Immortalize your kids' creativity by videotaping their skits. Put a copy of the
video in the school library, so it can be used for years to come whenever health is taught. Make
sure there's a copy available to show at parent open houses, too, to demonstrate
how creative you teachers are. (The videos may even turn out to be a school fund-raiser: your
students' parents will each want a copy and so may the local library and health
department. You may be able to get a small grant from the local health department, a pediatric
clinic or a medical-supply firm to cover initial expenses.)
- Combine theatrics and journalism by having each student interview staff, faculty, parents and
other students about how to handle the accident situations presented in Kids to the Rescue!—a
burn or a shock, for example. Then have your kids present the good
and bad answers with a news-style skit, complete with anchors at a desk and reporters doing live
"man in the street" interviews.