At the risk of sounding a little crazy, I have to share something that bothers me - traffic light crafts. You may not have given traffic light crafts much thought since your own days in preschool or kindergarten, but I come across them fairly regularly in my job and they bother me every time I see them. I have three main objections:
1) Many of the crafts are designed to teach kids that red means stop, green means go, and yellow means slow. Yellow does not mean slow! Yellow is a warning to drivers that the light will soon be turning red. Young children are not drivers. They are pedestrians. Teaching young children that yellow means slow down seems ridiculously dangerous to me. The last thing you want when children are in a crosswalk is for them to slow down if the light turns yellow before they make it fully across.2) 99.9% of traffic light crafts show the red, yellow, and green lights lit simultaneously. In my 33 years as a driver and 48 years as a pedestrian, I have never once seen a traffic light with all three colors showing at once. Since the point of a traffic light craft is to teach vital safety skills to kids, why do we use a visual model of something that doesn't ever happen?3) While the vast majority of traffic light crafts show the lights in their proper order with red on top and green on the bottom, I could show you a surprising number of tutorials that don't have the order correct. Again, this strikes me as really dangerous. We should be teaching children about the color AND the position of the lights. Red/green color blindness affects approximately 8% of boys, or an average of one in every kindergarten classroom.
Here's my version of a traffic light craft.
Traffic Light Craft
- construction paper (black, light blue, red, yellow, green)
- circle punch
- white crayon
Cut a sheet of black construction paper in half lengthwise. Save one half for the writing. Cut a long, thin strip off the other piece. Then cut three rectangles and punch six circles.
Punch one circle each from red, yellow, and green construction paper.
On the half sheet of black construction paper, use a white crayon to write the message (Red means STOP! Yellow means RED SOON. Green means GO!). I chose "red soon" because it's easier for young children to read and remember than "caution."
Glue the circles to the rectangles to make the traffic lights. Then glue all of the pieces to a piece of light blue construction paper, as shown below. Make sure the traffic lights positioned in the correct location.
Kids are never too young to learn about traffic safety. Below I've linked some ideas for toys and books that would be great to pair with this craft.