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Kids to the Rescue!
by Maribeth and Darwin Boelts
Maribeth and Darwin Boelts

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Maribeth Boelts Launched Writing Career Three Months into Sabbatical from Teaching

First Aid—Even for First Graders:
Teaching Tips for the Classroom

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Classroom Activity Plan (First Aid—Even For First Graders)

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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 teach.

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.)

  1. Use Kids to the Rescue! in the science or health units that cover the human body.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!.
  6. 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.)
  7. 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.
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