TD I ThinkFirst! Contest: A Fun, Interactive Way to Teach Kids About Safety
This year’s I ThinkFirst! Contest engaged many classes across Canada, of various ages, to learn about injury prevention through discussion and creative projects. Katherine Raas teaches Grade 1 at Osbourne Elementary in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan; and Irene Englezos teaches Grade 6 at Trinity Montessori School in Markham, Ontario. We asked for their feedback on the program, and were delighted to hear the results.
How did the I ThinkFirst! Contest help you realise the importance of being aware of childrens' injuries and understanding how to prevent them?
Katherine: “As a mother and early-years teacher, I know it’s important to educate kids about injury prevention. But the I ThinkFirst! Contest is a new and fun way to teach my students about safety.”
Irene: “I thoroughly enjoyed the curriculum and the online support for educating and referencing safety and injury prevention. Especially the injury case studies: they were relatable and created a forum for open discussion with students.”
Wny do you think it's important for children to understand injury prevention? Do you feel that more activities like the I ThinkFirst! Contest should be implemented into elementary school curriculums? Why/why not?
Katherine: “Children are naturally curious, and don't always realize there are risks involved in everyday activities. I would love to see more of these types of projects available to elementary teachers and students. Hands-on lessons are more appealing to students, and often lead to greater information retention and learning.”
Irene: “Absolutely. I think we sometimes take for granted that children understand safety and injury prevention, but this is not necessarily true. Although many of our students could give examples of how to prevent injuries, they were not all aware of potential hazards associated with certain activities. This should definitely be implemented into the elementary curriculum, as prevention is the key!”
Creative projects often get kids thinking and give them a break from standard lecture-style classes. Did the children enjoy doing this activity? And how were they engaged in the topic of injury prevention?
Katherine: “The students loved this activity! They were involved in all aspects of the project: from brainstorming topics and content, to the method of presentation. They were motivated by the possibility of their book being used to educate other children.”
Irene: “They loved getting involved in the injury prevention projects. It was great to see the students discussing ideas and being creative. It also allowed children to share experiences and ask questions, if they did not understand how to avoid dangerous situations. They enjoyed making posters, videos and writing stories/poems. They researched ideas on how to make them creative and fun.”
What do you think was the most valuable part of the contest? Did it prompt the children to learn more about injury prevention from one another and through discussion?
Katherine: “We had many great discussions, and I think that the students learned a lot from each other. The children had to cooperate and work together to create their safety book, which I think was invaluable. Students teaching students is a great way to make learning stick.”
Irene: “I think the most influential lesson this time around was the anger management and anti-bullying campaign. I think for our older students, this was very relatable and they learned different strategies to help them cope with a difficult situation or problem with a friend. We had many open discussions about this topic, and it was great to see different opinions and share strategies.”
What was the children's strongest area of existing injury prevention knowledge? Safety at play, at school or at home? Depending on which was strongest, how could we improve their knowledge of the other two?
Katherine: “Home safety was the strongest area of knowledge, likely due to parents/guardians teaching their children from a young age. This type of program is a great way to introduce and teach new information. All areas of injury prevention had to be presented, before students could narrow down topics for their project.”
Irene: “I think the strongest knowledge was definitely the play component. I think, from a young age, children are taught about safety related to playing, street signs, fire, bike safety, etc. They were still very knowledgeable on home and school safety, but more discussions and projects would be great to provide them with more information in those areas.”
Why do you think the I ThinkFirst! Contest was successful in sparking thought and conversation into the daily activity of the children? Do you think they would be interested in doing a similar contest again?
Katherine: “The I ThinkFirst! Contest was a fun approach to learning about injury prevention. Students would absolutely be excited to participate in a contest like this again.”
Irene: “I think the contest was successful because these are topics children deal with daily. Whether it’s home, school or play, safety should always be discussed. Unfortunately, we live in such as busy society, we often do not take the time to explain the importance of why we do things, we just inform and move on. If children were more aware of the possible threats and potential risks of not being careful, they would probably be more diligent in their everyday lives. We will absolutely implement this contest and similar themes next year.”