Grantee Blog 2020

UWCJ Dental Health Program in Jamesburg Goes Virtual

When United Way of Central Jersey was awarded this grant, we anticipated working with JFK Elementary School teachers to create a comprehensive pre-k dental program. Now, it’s unclear whether JFK will be opening its doors in September! The school is prepared to operate on a hybrid (remote plus in class) schedule but could end up operating completely virtually.

With this in mind, we are creating a virtual dental education program for pre-k children. The program will be modular and flexible, allowing teachers to easily incorporate it into the existing Creative Curriculum health component. Equally important, the program will include activities to engage parents and will provide nutritional information beneficial for the entire family. Since JFK has a large Hispanic population, the program will be offered in English and Spanish.

One of the first program modules, which we discuss in this post, is “Science and Dental Hygiene Basics.” Other modules will be discussed in future posts.

Here are some examples of learning points in the first basic Science module:

  1. How many teeth do I have? Can I count them? Have I grown new teeth; have I lost some of them? Why?
  2. What do I use my teeth for? What might happen if I didn’t have any teeth? Do animals have teeth? What animals have big teeth? Small teeth?
  3. What are some of the other parts of my face? What do they help me do?
  4. What can I do to take care of my teeth? Am I taking care of them now? Who can help me take care of them?

Related activities:

  1. Read aloud a book about teeth.
  2. Sing a song about teeth. Children can be encouraged to dance while singing.
  3. Draw a picture of a face with a mouthful of teeth. Number the teeth. Talk about the importance of a smile. Color the pictures.
  4. Practice spelling T-E-E-T-H, or tracing the letters. Recognize the word “teeth.”
  5. Make up a story about how teeth help us every day, or about what can hurt teeth.
  6. Watch and discuss a video that shows how to brush the teeth.

Parent reinforcement activities include: finding dental printables and dental games to work on with the child; making sure that the household has toothbrushes and toothpaste; encouraging routine brushing; searching the refrigerator to identify the food that is good for teeth.

Note that this component contains opportunities for cognitive development, scientific inquiry and literacy and arts skill growth, use of the imagination and creative play. Children engage in focused activities based on their everyday lives.  And, the lesson sets the stage for future discussions about good nutrition, the dentist, and how to keep teeth healthy.

About the Grantee

United Way of Central Jersey

United Way of Central Jersey provides leadership to create opportunities for a better life for people living or working in our community who are needy, at-risk and vulnerable. We achieve this by mobilizing people, organizations and financial resources to create and sustain programs that achieve targeted outcomes and lasting change through volunteerism, partnerships, services, and advocacy.