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Teaching young children about protective behaviors can be a difficult but important task. By using the familiar fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood in a preschool lesson plan, you can assist preschoolers in the understanding and discussion of stranger danger concepts.
You may like to use Little Red Riding hood as a book, a sequence of pictures or as a puppet show. Just adapt the main ideas to suit your focus of discussion.
- What is a stranger?
- How does your body tell you that you are scared?
- Who are your safe people to talk to when you are scared?
- What can you do when you don't feel safe?
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Little Red Riding Hood Story and Follow Up Discussion
Although there are some variations of this famous story, the main ideas hold steadfast. For the purpose of this preschool lesson plan on stranger danger concepts here is the basis of the story: Granny is sick in bed and Little Red Riding Hood's mother asks Little Red Riding Hood to take cakes to her. Granny lives on the other side of a very scary, deep, dark forest. On the way a wolf jumps out and asks Little Red Riding Hood what she is doing. She is very scared, but answers the wolf regardless. The wolf runs away and uses the newly learned information to his advantage. Little Red Riding Hood continues on to Granny's house, but when she arrives a strange voice calls out "come in dear". The wolf has dressed in Granny's clothes and attempts to eat Little Red Riding Hood. A wood cutter hears her screams and comes to her and her Granny's rescue. The wood cutter takes Granny and Little Red Riding Hood home safely.
Here are some ideas for follow up discussion:
- Little Red Riding Hood does not know the wolf, and naively tells him information. What is a stranger? Ask this question as many children struggle to understand the concept. Explain that strangers are people we do not know. Some strangers are nice, some are not, but because we do not know them we need to know how to keep ourselves safe.
- Little Red Riding Hood is scared to go through the woods. How does she know she is scared? What signs does her body give her? (Fast beating heart, wobbly legs).
- Little Red Riding Hood might like to tell her mother she is scared. Who can you talk to when you get scared? Who are your safe people?
- Little Red Riding Hood might like to take someone safe with her when she goes through the woods. What other things might she be able to do to feel safe?
- Little Red Riding Hood hears a strange voice inside Granny’s house. Should she go in the house? What other things might she do? (hide, go home).
- Little Red Riding Hood screams when she realizes the wolf is dressed in Granny’s clothes and the woodcutter hears her. Teach children it is OK to do whatever they can to feel safe when they do not, such as scream, be rude and tell lies.
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"My Safe People" Activity and Follow Up Discussion
Start off this activity using any type of paper. Trace around each child’s hand and ask them who the people are that make them feel safe. List those people on the fingers of each hand. Remember you do not know what the home environment is like, so allow the child to choose the safe people. You may help with suggesting people like teachers or police officers in addition to the more common family members.
Follow up this activity with a discussion on "safety words." Teach the children words that express their wants, feelings and emotions that promote protective behaviors such as:
- I don’t like what you are doing
- That makes me sad/ angry/ scared
Remember preschool lesson plans on protective behaviors are about teaching children that they have a right to feel safe and giving children the skills to protect themselves.