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Teaching Preschoolers Respect for Property the Fun Way

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: Tania Cowling • updated: 9/11/2012

Educators have the responsibility of teaching preschoolers respect for property. The information provided here can help educators turn that lesson into fun activities that help preschoolers understand why and how to respect property.

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    Prior Learning of Respect

    One way of teaching preschoolers respect for property is to teach them manners that reflect their respect for themselves and other people. The best way to teach manners is to model them and lead by example. Use a manners craft to reinforce students' progress as they develop their manners within the classroom and social settings. Keep in mind that people who don't respect themselves are not capable of respecting property, whether it belongs to them or someone else. Discuss manners with your students and how they apply to property. After refreshing their memories on their manners, sit children down for movie time and have the children watch the movie "Toy Story". This is a great movie that displays a child with no respect for himself or property. It gives the children a chance to see what property, like toys, might have to say when it is disrespected.

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    Respect Discussion

    Talk with students about some ways they have seen property disrespected. Ask them some of the questions listed below and then discuss their responses.

    • Do you ever get angry and throw your toys at home? What would your toys say if they could talk?
    • Have you ever seen graffiti in a park or in a store? (You may have to explain what graffiti is and list some examples)
    • How do you feel when people use your things without asking?
    • Why do you think you should put your toys away when you are done playing with them?

    Now that students have an idea of what it means to respect property and why they should do it, try using one of the activities below as methods for teaching preschoolers respect for property.

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    Vandalized Classroom

    You may need to enlist some help as you use this activity for teaching preschoolers respect for property. You will need an assistant, some sheets of stickers and a box of toys.

    1. Take the children for a walk outside where there may be trash on the ground or clear evidence of graffiti. Talk about the impact of the property destruction with your preschoolers.
    2. As you are taking your preschoolers for a walk, have the assistant scatter toys around the classroom and overturn objects. Have the assistant place cut out stickers under the overturned objects.
    3. When your class comes back to the room, feign shock and ask the children how they feel about the mess in the classroom. Talk about how the property in the classroom was disrespected.
    4. Have children set the classroom straight by picking up the toys and fixing overturned objects. As they do this, they will find stickers to reward them for their efforts!

    This is a great plan to use positive reinforcement as a method for teaching preschoolers respect for property. Not only do the children understand what it's like to pick up after someone else, but they also get immediate rewards for it!

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    Children Can Become Community Helpers

    Part of teaching preschoolers respect for property is getting them to actively pay attention to what disrespect of property does to the area around them. This activity asks that preschoolers take an active role in demonstrating respect for property.

    There are several ways to do this activity. It can be done in the school itself or outside the classroom. All you really need is a mess! Ask children to work as a group to clean up the cafeteria, park or other public place they may frequent. Students can wipe down tables or pick up bits of trash to clean the area up. Be sure to have students wear gloves as they complete this activity! Make sure students get some type of simple reward for helping out in this manner. Once the activity is complete, ask students how they think the mess could have been prevented or who should have cleaned up the mess. Talk about picking up after other people as a way to reinforce that the preschoolers should be picking up after themselves.

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    Role-playing and hands-on learning are the key to teaching preschool children respect for property and respect for others. Since children learn with their senses, visual activities help children to understand concepts and learn new skills needed to become a responsible individual in later life.

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