People Who Help Us – Early Years Play

People Who Help Us

People who help us is such a fun theme in the early years. It’s also an incredibly important topic to get children to know who can help them when they have a problem.

There are so many people who help is in our everyday lives. Some help us with day to day and others when it’s an emergency. It’s crucial to get children to understand people who help us in emergency situations and that this is done in a way that makes children feel safe.

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Who Helps Us?

Here are some examples below of people who help us. Don’t forget to ensure that you are using gender neutral terms for occupations as the words children hear in the early years are very influential. This isn’t a complete list, but a good start. If you’re anything like me the moment I need to think of ideas my mind goes blank!

  • Doctors
  • Refuse Collector
  • Nurses
  • Paramedics
  • Fire Fighters
  • Life Guards
  • Police
  • Vets
  • Mechanics
  • Coast Guards
  • Teacher
  • Librarian
  • Postal Workers
  • Dentist
  • Builder
  • Lollipop Person

People Who Help Us & Play

Learning through play and hands on experience are the best ways to learn. People who help us is the perfect topic to try and get real life experiences for children. Whether you are a class teacher or home schooling getting real people to talk and demonstrate how they help us is such a valuable experience.

Lots of occupations have designated departments that arrange visits with children. However, you may know friends, family or parents at school who would be willing to talk to your class/ children and share a little bit about their day.

Finding People

  • Fire Service – search online for your local fire service and add the key words ‘school visits’. You should get information on who to contact and lots of regional services provide online resources too.
  • Police Service – as with fire service search for your area and ‘school visits’.
  • Air Ambulance Service – you can request resources here.
  • Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) do superb visits. I’ve booked them several times for different schools I’ve worked in and the children have always been very engaged. You can request a visit from them here. They’re super friendly!

Some people you don’t need to arrange. One school I worked at I had a group of kids who went wild each week when the refuse collectors arrived to collect the bins. So much so we’d arrange to go out on a Tuesday morning to greet them and have an informal chat. They were always so pleased to see us and loved answering the children’s questions. We’d also take time to chat to the postie too!

Small World & Role Play

Small world play and role play are other ways that children are able to explore these different roles of people who help us and make sense of what they mean to them.

Role Play


I often have to go into hospital and we have had to have a ambulances come to the house. I’m always taken to hospital by the paramedics. Following these experiences Floss, our daughter, is understandably a little unsettled.

Play helps children to be able to process how they’re feeling and talk about their thoughts and emotions. It was perfect timing that Nexus had gifted us their Light and Sound set to review – Nexus no longer stock them but you can find other similar sets here and here.

We were able to set up small world role play with the ambulance and hospital part of the set to help her process what had happened. It really helped her to understand what had happened and the role of the paramedics in making Mommy better.

You don’t have to have specific resources for this you could use blocks to represent the hospital and any car to represent the ambulance. However, if you are looking for hospital and ambulance resources Playmobil do fabulous sets.


Not only can play be helpful to understand the roles of people who help us after an event, it can be so beneficial to do it in preparation for what will happen. This could be a trip to the vet with a pet, a doctor or dentist appointment or in our case an operation in hospital.

Mark making - early writing - role play - small world play - chalk houses - kerris childminding - mark making resources

Floss has recently had an operation and prior to the surgery we set up a hospital role play for her. We tried to ensure that lots of the observations and examinations she would have to have done we’d role-played.

Giving her the opportunity to be patient, doctor and nurse. We added in narration like what you’d find in a social story (if you’d like to know more about social stories here’s a link) to help her understand the different things that might happen. It was very helpful for all of us in the family prior to the event.

Small World

Sound and Light Blocks

The clever thing about the Light and Sound set from Nexus is that yes you can use it for small world play, but it’s also a construction toy that develops fine and gross motor skills.

They also develop technological awareness through their lights and sounds and are operated by a switch.

The set consists of 81 blocks which make a school and school bus, hospital and ambulance, police station and police car and a fire station and fire truck.

Although these are the examples, children’s imaginations would turn them into so much more. Some of the blocks are decorated wooden blocks that build together through stacking. Other blocks have an interlocking mechanism that mean you can build horizontally and vertical; these blocks attach to the vehicle motors and allow you to construct vehicles.

When you need all the services at once!

Each vehicle motor pack has a light and sound associated with. Floss loves putting the fun music from the school bus on the police car!

Construction Play & Fine Motor Skills

Floss hasn’t shown much interest in construction play recently and so I wondered what she’d make of this set. Initially, the cute little characters grasped her attention first. She very much loves small world play.

We introduced each character as someone who drove a special type of vehicle and this got her interested in the idea of making the vehicle. We constructed them together. Floss needed a little help to connect some of the blocks, but her nephew who is 5 months younger can pull them and push them apart with ease! You’ll find more information about fine motor skills in a blog post I wrote here.

Road Tape

Along with the Light and Sound set Nexus gifted a roll of their incredible road tape. Again, Nexus don’t currently stock the tape any more but you can find tape here. You can stick it easily to surfaces and it comes off with no residue. It lasts so well too. Ours has been on our unit for over a month and I can’t believe that it hasn’t curled up at the edges or got ripped. I do keep having a little check that it peels of with no residue AND it does! One tip I would give is to go gently when you unroll it as if you are too quick you’ll rip the tape.

Toy Shelfie - Toy rotation - toy organisation - toy organization - top toys 2 year old and 3 year old - perpetual calendar - loose parts - open ended toys - traditional tales - three little pigs - waldorf inspired

We’ve had great fun making up small world play scenes with the tape. I’m not sure who was more excited about the addition of a road ramp, Daddy or Floss! Road tape matches perfectly with the Light and Sound set and really does enhance the play. Could easily be used in a tuff tray.

People Who Help Us

The inclusion of people who help us in Floss’s play has really changed how she engages with small world play. Her narratives that run alongside her play are more elaborate and she is beginning to understand cause and effect through this type of play.

Her interest in construction play has blossomed too and she has become interested in other toys that she can create with such as Duplo. In unfamiliar situations she’s more confident and when meeting people too. She’s curious about what people do and why since we explored people who help us.

Other Resources

What’s on our shelf? Other resources that we’ve used while looking at people who help us are books, puzzles, story cubes, characters and vehicles.

You could draw or print off pictures of people who help us to match to their place of work, vehicle or objects that they use (eg. fire extinguisher, stethoscope). You could have role play costumes for children to act out the job of the person who helps us.

Audio Players

While children enjoy small world play you could add an audio book on in the background. We love Tonie Boxes and Yoto Players for their ease of independent use with children.

They given children the opportunity to make choices in what they would like and wouldn’t like to listen to. They can interact with media as they wish such as adjusting volume and skipping ahead.

If you’d like more information about Tonie Boxes and Yoto Players and which one to choose head to my blog post here.

There are several Tonies – the characters that you place on the Tonies Box – that would go so well with a people who help us topic. Pictured are Fireman Sam and Doc McStuffins.


Teaching children who to call when there is a problem can be literally life saving. If you’re UK based here’s a great little video on calling 999.

I only choose to review products that I think we as a family will love and use. Road tape and light and sound set gifted by Nexus. The opinions in this post are my own. I hope my reviews will give you ideas of how to get the best out of the products and would love to know any thoughts you have.

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