People who help us

This is a topic which could be easily spread over several lessons by taking a different person, e.g. firefighter, per week as the focus. Below I have separated the tip into the various people who help us, suggesting activities that you could do about each of them. See if you can find storybooks to accompany at least a couple of the people.

Jo Bertrand


  • To raise awareness of the benefits of helping people
  • To integrate cultural references (traditional poems, popular cartoons/storybooks)
  • To introduce vocabulary; a dentist, a firefighter, a doctor, a police officer, a postal worker, a nurse, a teacher – and related objects: a tooth, a fire, a stomach-ache, a cat, a tree, an envelope, a thermometer, an exercise book


  • Vocabulary flashcards
  • Puppets (to help tell stories)

Introduction to topic
The first time you look at this topic you should give the children an overview of all the people who help us and, in each lesson, start off with the same flashcards. This way they have a context and a reason for learning about the different people. Once they have pictures of all the people who help us on the board draw a circle around the one the particular lesson is based on. Then, in each lesson, display all the people and circle the person you are going to look at.

  • Stick flashcards onto the board of the following pictures; a tooth, a fire, someone who has stomach-ache, a cat stuck in a tree, a stamped-addressed envelope, a thermometer, an exercise book.
  • Elicit or teach the words in bold.
  • Stick up flashcards of the following; a dentist, a firefighter, a doctor, a police officer, a postal worker, a nurse and a teacher.
  • Ask volunteers to come and match the person to the object.
  • Each time you can say; ‘My tooth hurts. Who can help me?’ or ‘There’s a fire. Who can help me?’ using the word ‘help’ as much as possible.


  • Make a firefighter puppet (you can do this out of card or using an old toilet roll) to help you tell the story of the dog who can smell smoke and who helps the firefighter to find and put out fires.
  • Fireman Sam. Teach the class the title song as an introduction to this popular children’s programme. You will need to make sure the activities you link to the programme are simple. For example, ask the children to stand up, raise their hands and/or shout out the word each time they see a fire engine, a fire, something red… you decide what exactly. The objects you choose will depend on the episode you have at your disposal. This way the activity is accessible and they are still thinking about firefighter related vocabulary in English.

Postal workers
If you can get hold of a copy of an episode of the cartoon of Postman Pat or of an original storybook it would be a good idea to base your lesson around the content.

  • Postman Pat. Again, as with Fireman Sam you can teach them the song of the cartoon before looking at the video. Both these characters spend their time helping people in their village so are a good example of community spirit.
  • You could use this lesson to ‘write’ a letter and post it. Write out a short letter yourself to photocopy for the class. A possible subject could be your holidays. Leave gaps for words such as ‘sun’, ‘beach’, ‘cake’ etc. As a class go through the letter and ask them to guess the missing words. Depending on their age they could draw in pictures of the missing words or copy the words that you write on the board. Distribute envelopes so that they can send their letters to either someone in the class (they all write their names on bits of paper, put into a hat and pick a name), or to someone at home. You could then have two volunteer postal workers to give out the letters.

This is a good topic to give value to your own role as a teacher and for the children to see how you are there to help them.

  • Sit in a circle and brainstorm all the things their teacher does to help them. You can collate this information either on the board, on a large piece of paper or just orally. Then move on to your role and ask them how you help them. Finally ask them how they help their teacher, you and the other people in the class. This discussion can include vocabulary such as ‘share’, ‘listen’, ‘talk’ or ‘tidy up’. If you haven’t already made a class contract this is a good opportunity to make a ‘how we can help each other’ contract.

Police officers
This is potentially a delicate subject and one which can be easily treated through using the traditional image of a cat stuck in a tree or somebody who is lost in the street.

  • There’s a good book in the Topsy and Tim series which talks about the police visiting their school. It explains how Topsy and Tim find a necklace in the street and take it to the police. If you can’t get hold of this book then why not use this subject to create a class storybook.

Doctors and nurses
It’s good to have a doll to act out this song with. The children can bring in their own dolls (remember to ask them the lesson before) to act out the song with you. Bring in a few spare ones for those children who forget.

Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick sick sick
She called for the doctor to come quick, quick quick
The doctor came with his bag and his hat
And he knocked on the door with a rat-a-tat-tat.
He looked at the dolly and he shook his head
And he said ‘Miss Polly put her straight to bed.’
He wrote on a paper for a pill, pill, pill
‘I’ll be back in the morning with my bill, bill, bill.’

Begin by showing your teeth and pretending you have toothache. Ask the question – ‘Who can help me?’ and show them the flashcard of the dentist if need be. You could ask who likes going to the dentist and who doesn’t. Try and promote going to the dentist as being a good thing!

  • Crocodiles – They have lots of teeth and so can be a fun angle to take on going to the dentist. There is a poem called The dentist and the crocodile, written by Roald Dahl. You could allocate parts of the poem to groups in the class for them to illustrate. This way they will get a clear idea of the content. Read the poem again and ask them to raise their pictures at the appropriate moment and say some key words with you.

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