Community Helpers are at Your Service
Students learn that Community Helpers provide a service for their neighborhood.
Do you teach your students about community helpers every year? If you do, you may also teach your students the economic concepts of goods and services. If you don’t combine your community helpers lessons with lessons on the economic concept of services, you may be missing out on an easy way to address both topics.
- Distinguish between goods and services.
- Draw or write about a service provider doing his/her job.
- Learn that some community helpers are provided by the government.
- Our Government: This web site explains what the government is. The first page is suitable for use with this lesson.
- Your Neighborhood: This web site permits students to click on a fire station, police station, post office, hospital, library or school. For each of these places, a community helper is displayed and an explanation of his or her job is offered.
- Interactive Activity: A pop-up activity students can use to review the roles of community helpers.
Communities- What they provide for us
Hold out your hand and place a pencil in it, then a can of food, then a glove, then a toy, etc. Ask the students what else you could put in your hand. Then tell them that all of these items have something in common. They can all be held or touched. Explain that items that people can buy are called a “goods” if those items can be touched. Explain further that the word “goods” has nothing to do with being good. It is an old English word meaning merchandise or things you can buy in a store. Hold up an advertisement or catalog. Ask the students which items are goods. (Probably everything is.)
Now tell the students that we sometimes buy things that cannot be held. For example, we buy a haircut — but we don’t go to a store and point to a haircut and put it on! Instead, a haircut is something someone does for us. In other words, it is a service. Or we may buy a car wash — but we don’t carry it home in a box. A car wash is another example of a service–of something that someone does for us. Similarly, when our pipes leak at our house, we don’t go and buy a plumber; we pay a person to come to our house and do something for us. In this case, the service we buy is plumbing: a plumber comes and fixes our pipes.
Some services are provided by government workers. To introduce this point, go to the Our Government page. Use the information there to explain that services are provided by people who are in charge of the country, all 50 states, and all the cities in all 50 states. Usually the government does not provide plumbers, car washers, or barbers (although in some special cases it does), but government does provide us with many other community helpers.
Tell students that some services that we need are provided by businesses (like getting a haircut or getting our teeth cleaned), but sometimes communities need to provide services for the people that live in them. Who collects your trash? Who cleans your street or plows snow from your road? Who protects us from crime? These are all services provided by our local communities. To find out about the people who supply services in our communities, go to the Your Neighborhood page.
Discuss each community helper. Tell the students that sometimes we pay people for services and sometimes the government pays for these services.
Note: At this age the students will not be expected to know which community helpers are provided by the government and which are not. The objective is to just introduce the concept that our government provides services to us.
The students should have learned that goods are tangible items that people want. They are things you can buy that can be touched or held. The students should also know that services are activities that satisfy people’s wants. They are things that people do for someone else. The U.S. government provides services for us. Community helpers are people who provide services to us in our neighborhoods and some community helpers are provided by the government.
In this lesson students will learn about the difference between the producers of goods and services.
Have students review the Community Helpers providing services by trying these activities on goods and services they provide. Have them put the title, “Community Helper” at the top of a sheet of paper. Instruct them to write the title of a service provider and draw the community helper providing a service to the community. You may also have them write a sentence starting with “I am thankful for the [insert title of a community helper] because…”