Keeping Kids Safe. How to help children learn about road safety.

Dec 19, 2014

This post is sponsored by TAC and Nuffnang

Road Safety is so vitally important for children and is something that should be addressed early on through education and even more importantly, role-modelling. As parents, teachers and carers, we are well aware of how perceptive children are and how they love to mimic the words and actions of adults. It is therefore imperative that the lessons and words that we are teaching children, are backed up by our own actions.

The Transport Accident Commission (TAC), is a Victorian Government-owned organisation that is involved in promoting road safety in Victoria and in improving services for Victoria's drivers. The TAC works closely with VicRoads, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD), community groups and a range of other organisations to deliver road safety programs and key messages at meaningful and relevant times. 
To support the program for our youngest and often most vulnerable citizens, TAC developed a TVC campaign “ThingleToodle” to encourage safe road user behaviour in young children through a focus on parental role modelling.


There are 5 main messages that ThingleToodle helps children (and adults) to learn and remember about keeping safe on and around our roads. These are delivered in a fun and entertaining way through animations and catchy songs.


My children, (aged 3 and almost 6) enjoyed watching them all.

As a teacher of the early years, Road Safety is something that was often taught in our classrooms over a few sessions, sometimes with a traffic safety educator that comes to the school and then modelled and reinforced throughout the year. These days, Road Safety Education has been given higher importance in primary schools with the development of a program called Kids On The Move. It has been designed to assist primary schools to implement a core road safety education program. In doing so, schools will make a contribution to improving the safety of children and families within the school community. A minimum of 12 hours class time should be spent on these activities over the targeted year levels. Enrichment activities focusing on Bike Ed and active transport are also available to enhance school road safety programs. You can find the program for the lower levels (Levels 1 & 2, ages 4-7) here.
Once again, it is by actually doing and practicing the correct road safety behaviours that will ensure that it becomes second nature to children and something that will stay with them over their lifetime.

When it comes to educating my own children, I know that the only real way that they are going to learn to be safe around cars and roads is through parental modelling and constant reinforcement of safety points every time we come to a road safety situation.

Just as the teachers at school who are out on yard duty will wear a hat outside in the warmer months to model and reinforce the expected behaviour to children, parents also need to model the expected road safety behaviours so that their children understand that it's just a standard part of life. We buckle our seat-belts when we get in the car, we wear our helmets when we ride bikes, we stop, look, listen and think each time we come to the road and we make sure to talk about it each time.

Road safety is not something that is taught in one lesson and there's not a clever game that once your children have played it, they are set for road safety. Road safety is a life long lesson that begins from birth as we model the correct behaviours and carries through their life as you remind them and practice each step with your child.

How to teach your children road safety at home

To help teach your children road safety at home, I recommend watching the below videos with your child and talking about them and all 5 important points. You would be surprised how well children respond to things they see on television or in film. If the TV says so, it must be so! The videos are fabulous for reinforcing the same messages that you are modelling and talking about at home. (In fact, since watching the videos, my just turned 3y/o, who always knew we had to do up our seat-belts, now can not get in the car without instructing and reminding each of us that we need our seat-belts done up, haha. It's quite cute).

Whenever you find yourself in a situation where road safety comes into question (like when you're crossing the road, getting out of the car in the car-park, going on a bike ride etc.), you should make a point of talking about the lessons you've learnt. Use the below information to guide your questioning and give you points to think about and discuss with your children. Be sure to involve your children in the decision making so that they can practice what they have learnt. Is it safe to cross the road now? Why/Why not?

For even more resources (including some worksheets which can be used to complement your modelling and practice but not replace it) have a look at the Kids On the Move modules and activities and the Road Safety Education site.


1) Be a good role model



• Be a good road safety role model. Children are great copycats and learn by watching important adults in their lives. When it comes to teaching children, what you do is often much more important than what you say. Always wear your own seatbelt, obey road rules, drive courteously and cross roads safely.

• Never leave children alone to play near parked or moving vehicles, and separate your children’s play areas from driveways.

• Get children in and out of cars safely by making it a habit to use the doors facing away from traffic (the safety door) where possible. As your child becomes more independent, they will then expect to continue this habit.


2) Wear a helmet when riding a bike or other wheeled toys 


 • Ensure children wear correctly fitted helmets that meet the Australian standard when riding bikes, scooters or wheeled toys, and get your child in the habit of removing their helmet after they have finished riding.

 • Correct helmet fitting tips:
  • the helmet should be the correct size for the child
  • it should cover the upper part of the forehead and
  • sit level on the head

• Children under the age of 12 years can ride a bicycle on footpaths, but cyclists must ensure to keep left and give way to any pedestrians. Cyclists must also be very careful when crossing driveways and roads. Accompanying adults can also ride on the footpath with children aged under 12 years.

• It is the law to wear a helmet so parents should always wear one if they are riding as they are role models to their children.

• Even if playing in the driveway or footpath outside the house, if children are using a bicycle, skateboard or scooter they should wear a helmet so that it becomes a good habit in these early development years.

3) Always wear a seatbelt in the car and sit in an appropriate child car seat


•  It is the law that all occupants of a vehicle wear a seatbelt. Children are usually unable to do up their own seatbelts and require assistance from an adult. It's important to check that the seatbelt is clicked in correctly and that you are setting the right example by always wearing a seatbelt yourself.

•  Children are safest when they are in a child car seat that is appropriate for their age and size. By law, all children aged under 7 years must be secured in a child car seat. However, an adult seatbelt is still not the safest option for most 7 year old children, given their size and weight. Children should continue using a booster seat until they have outgrown it, or until they fit well in a normal seatbelt. 

• Many child restraints are not installed correctly. To check that your child is safe, check:
  1. The restraint is the right size for your child
  2. The restraint is correctly fitted to your vehicle
  3. The restraint is properly fasted and adjusted for your child

• Ensure your child travels in the safest restraint. If you are confused about what restraint or booster seat to buy, visit the Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) website at www.childcarseats.com.au Here you will find a number of child car seats that have been tested and rated on crash protection and ease of use.

4) Hold hands with an adult when crossing the road


• Five things adults can do to keep kids safe near roads:
  1. Supervise children
  2. Hold hands when crossing the road
  3. Talk with children about how to safely cross the road and practise the skill together
  4. Involve children in crossing the road by asking them to help make decisions about when it is safe to cross
  5. Model safe road crossing behaviour and set a good example for children.




5) Stop, Look, Listen, Think



• When children approach a road, they should be encouraged to first STOP. They are then able to LOOK in all directions around them, LISTEN for any upcoming traffic and THINK about whether it is safe to cross the road or not. Only when they have Stopped, Looked, Listened and Thought about it, can they make the decision about whether it is a safe time to cross.

• Stop, Look, Listen and Think is a road safety procedure that is embedded in the VicRoads Starting out Safely program, which focuses on early childhood road safety. Kids need the important adults in their lives to provide them with plenty of supervised practice in the real road environment to help develop their understanding of these concepts so that it becomes second nature to them and supports the development of safe young people.

STOP
  • Show them how some traffic can take a long time to stop.
  • Watch traffic stopping at road signs or crossings. Show your children that traffic doesn't always come to a complete stop. It is important to always check that traffic has stopped completely before crossing the road.
LOOK
  • Look for vehicles reversing from driveways. Talk about the 'clues' that tell you that a vehicle might appear. For example, people waving goodbye, something moving, exhaust fumes, reversing lights or beeping sounds.
  • Point out the traffic signs, signals and road markings and talk about what they each mean.
LISTEN
  • Does a car and truck sound the same?
  • Do some vehicles sound fast or slow?
  • Are some vehicles harder to see and hear?
THINK
  • Do you think we have time to cross the road?
  • Do we have a long way to walk across the road?
  • Have you looked everywhere for traffic?
For more information, visit roadsafetyeducation.vic.gov.au




THINGLETOODLE AT THE MOVIES!

This Saturday (20th Dec), from 10am-1pm, bring the kids down to Knox Village Cinemas where ThingleToodle will be appearing live!

He will also be making an appearance at Sunshine on Saturday 10th January.

There'll be fun, interactive stations for the kids including a spinning wheel and badge making.

WIN 4 x Village Cinemas Movie Passes (RRP $80)!

To win 4 x Village Cinema Movie Passes, simply leave a comment below answering the question:

"How will ThingleToodle help my child learn road safety?"

Entry is for Australian residents only and competition ends 5pm AEDST Monday 5th January, 2015. Read here for full terms and conditions.

Good luck!


For even more information and great teacher resources on keeping children safe in and around the car, see my previous article, "Keeping kids safe in the car"

You can also read more and find further teaching resources at Starting Out Safely. This is the core early childhood road safety education program, designed to provide road safety information and support to parents and carers of children under six years.

Safe travels,
Debs :)

{Disclosure: this is a paid post for TAC sponsored by Nuffnang. Transport Accident Commission (TAC) is a Victorian Government-owned organisation that is involved in promoting road safety in Victoria and improving services for Victoria's drivers. As always, opinions expressed in this post are my own. The information given in this post is accurate as of Dec 2014 and comes from the official Victorian websites as linked. Please check the road rules in your own state and country for up to date laws that may apply to you that aren't listed here.}

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Desert Sand Writing Tray. Plus free printable desert themed Word Cards

Dec 16, 2014

This Bloggerati Getaway is proudly sponsored by Dubai Tourism

Whilst in Dubai, I was fortunate to experience a really incredible Heritage Desert Safari and Dinner with Platinum Heritage. It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip and an absolute must-do if you visit Dubai.


One of the things that I noticed about the sand in the Arabian Desert was just how powder-fine it was. Not coarse like most of our experiences with sand. Running it through your fingers and squeezing it between your toes was a real sensory experience and whilst the sand on top could get very hot, underneath it was beautiful and cold.

Taking this sensory experience further, when I came home I made my daughter a sand writing tray. She is really into writing these days so any chance for her to practice her reading and writing, work on letter formation/handwriting and learn and practice new words, I will jump at.


As I've just been in the desert, this was a great opportunity for us to talk about the desert, my experience and other extreme environments. To complement the activity, I made a little set of cards with desert themed words on them for her to practice reading and writing. It never hurts to add extra words to their vocabulary and these words will bring up other discussions and learning points. You can get your own copy below.


Click this link to get your set of --> printable desert themed word cards. You can then choose to print or download the set onto your computer.


Maddie (almost 6) loved the feel of the cool sand. I just used some of the play sand out of our sandpit and sieved it to get the finest grains of sand through and leave out the little bits of tanbark etc. that end up in our sandpit. You could use play sand, kinetic sand or even salt if you have no sand available, for a similar sensory literacy activity. You don't need a lot, just a thin layer of the sand on a tray of contrasting colour (so that lines can easily be made and seen in it) will be fine.


As they write, encourage children to consider their letter formation and where we start and finish our letters. They should also think about their spacing. How many letters are in the word and therefore how big can their letters be?


At the beginning of the activity, have children read and sound out the words. Even a large word that one might consider too difficult for beginners, like "conservation," is one that early readers can attempt. By breaking the word into "chunks" or small groups of letters, it is easier to sounds out, ie. con-ser-va-tion. Take it further: for older children, you can ask them to think of other words that contain "tion" in them. Does that combination of letters usually make that same sound? 

These are all lessons that are helpful for children, whether or not they "need" to be learning about conservation as such.. (although, when's not a good time to learn about conservation?). The scope of learning and the invaluable practice of skills make a simple activity such as this, very beneficial to children. The sand, tray and use of finger are what make the activity something that would appeal to children and make them more likely to want to learn and practice these things. They're just having fun.


To start a new word, lightly shake the tray. It is fun to watch the word slowly disappear into the sand. (For younger children, I recommend a tray with deeper sides so that it's less likely to get shaken or tipped off.)

Here are a few more pictures from my amazing desert safari.


Thanks to Mel from One Crafty Mumma for this picture
My Mox shoes provided a nice pop of colour and allowed the sand to slip in and out easily. Great for a light but fully enclosed shoe. Thanks to Mox for sending me this great new mint colour to take with me to Dubai.









Happy playing,
Debs :)


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DIY Kids Hotel Activity Pack

Dec 11, 2014

This Bloggerati Getaway is proudly sponsored by Dubai Tourism


When we travel with kids, regardless of our hotel choice and the amenities it provides, there are always a few occasions during our trip where we find ourselves looking for ways to entertain the kids inside the hotel room. One child might be having a nap, some family members might be showering or changing or you may just be up there for a bit of a rest and recharge before heading out again.

These days, I always bring a little activity pack so they can be entertained. As you are travelling, the items you bring need to be light and not bulky. I only take things that can fit into one A4 size pencil case. The items that I take are generally open-ended which means that they can be used in more than one way and for more than one purpose.



The materials that we use in our DIY Kids Hotel Activity Pack are:

  • paper plates (x10) 
  • coloured paper-tape (washi tape) 
  • toy cars 
  • watercolour paint set/pens/markers 
  • plain paper notebook 
  • balloons 
  • rulers
There are a number of different ways that you could use the items in this pack. Here are five different activity ideas. The rest of the ideas can come from the kids. Trust me, they'll have their own ideas.

Activity 1. Paper plate tic-tac-toe (2 players)



Materials:
  • paper plates x 10
  • coloured paper tape
  • marker (optional)

Instructions:

On the floor of your hotel room, lay down a tic-tac-tow grid using your paper tape.
Make a large "X" on the back of five of the paper plates and a large "O" on the back of the other five (use your markers or tape for this).
Players take turn putting their plates in the grid in an attempt to get 3 of their plates (either X or O) in a row.

Activity 2. Tape roads 


Materials:
  • coloured paper tape
  • toy cars

Instructions:

Use the coloured paper tape (or masking tape) to make roads on the hotel room floor and drive your little cars around for some imaginary play.


Activity 3. Paint what's out the window



Materials:
  • paper or paper plates to paint on
  • watercolour set w/ brush (we use these as they are easy to pack, can be used anywhere, are easy to clean and don't stain)
  • glass of water

Instructions:

Encourage your children to look outside your hotel room window and talk about the different features or objects that you see. They can paint or draw a picture. Don't forget to name and date the masterpiece as it can make a lovely momento of your holiday.

Activity 4. Paper plate balloon tennis (2 players)



Materials:


  • paper plates (1 per player)
  • plastic rulers (1 per player)
  • coloured paper tape
  • 1 x balloon

Instructions:

Use the paper-tape to stick your ruler to the back of a paper plate and blow up a balloon. Have fun hitting and catching your balloon with your paper-plate racket. Try some giant sized "egg-and-spoon" style races with them as well. Lots of fun to be had quickly and easily and balloons are much safer to use in hotel rooms over balls!


Activity 5. Paint a Paper Plate Mask


Materials:
  • paper plates
  • coloured paper tape
  • ruler
  • watercolour paint/markers
Instructions:

As well as making great rackets for balloon tennis, the same design can be used as a fun puppet or mask for children. Paint or draw on the extra details and then put on a puppet show.


You may have noticed that I have recently been in Dubai! I was been incredibly fortunate to be staying at the stunning Shangri La Hotel in Dubai. What a luxury! 

The Shangri La Hotel Dubai is located just 15 minutes from the Dubai International Airport and a short taxi ride into the hub of Old Dubai. (You shouldn't pay more than $10AUD for a taxi there).

With 8 different restaurants and bars, a gorgeous rooftop pool (that you can see the Burj Khalifa from!) and the most impeccable service I've ever received anywhere, I am sure that you would not be disappointed staying here. Oh, and did I mention the breakfast buffet? Don't get me started. Just remember to try the French Toast. Yum!




At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how amazing the hotel is. It's the staff  and customer service that you receive that impacts your stay the most. We were blown away by the fabulous staff and customer service that we received at the Shangri La Hotel Dubai.


Happy and safe travels,
Debs :)


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