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ThinkFirst for Kids Additional Information

ThinkFirst For Kids: Injury Prevention for Grades 1-3

ThinkFirst For Kids is a program that allows for flexible use in integrating lessons into the elementary school curriculum. Each grade (1-3) has a separate curriculum and array of classroom activities and work sheets. The activities and worksheets are designed to be integrated into various subjects, such as mathematics, reading and science.

The complete program, designed to educate the students about activities which place them at risk of a brain or spinal cord injury, consists of a 10-minute animated video; six individual safety modules; a set of posters, a set of comic sheets depicting "Street Smart," an animated character who practices safe behavior, in related scenarios. Each module addresses an individual safety area including vehicular safety, water safety, bicycle safety, violence avoidance, and sports and recreational safety.

ThinkFirst For Kids is introduced through the animated video, "Street Smart: A ThinkFirst Adventure." The video is culturally diverse and addresses the five safety areas by showing true-life scenarios. After the introductory video, a designated instructor is responsible for presenting one module each week or as the instructor determines.

The six safety modules are supplemented with a hands-on activity and many reinforcement strategies. The first module discusses the brain and spinal cord, and why we should take care to protect our body. Each of the five safety modules that follow includes a color classroom poster and comic sheet depicting "Street Smart" in each of the related scenarios. Comic sheets are also provided in black and white, providing a coloring activity.

This six-week curriculum is a comprehensive traumatic injury prevention program available to all schools or homeschool settings. Our goal is to help students develop safety habits that will minimize their risks of sustaining a brain or spinal cord injury. Our intent is to make the learning experience fun, yet meaningful, and to involve not only teachers, but also parents and the community.

The Importance of Injury Prevention

Traumatic injuries continue to be the leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 1 and 44.  Brain and spinal cord injuries are among the most devastating and costly types of injury, often resulting in permanent disabilities or death. Most of these injuries occur among persons between the ages of 15 and 24, with elementary children in the second highest risk group. The overwhelming majority of injuries are preventable.

Development of ThinkFirst For Kids

Applied learning and behavioral research has shown that exposure to similar messages repeated over time enhances learning and behavioral change. Furthermore, habit formation and behavior change are more easily assimilated in childhood. Based on this knowledge, ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation developed its second program, ThinkFirst For Kids. Under the direction of a task force comprised of educators, ThinkFirst coordinators, neurosurgeons, developmental psychologists/psychiatrists, a curriculum specialist, and marketing executives, a state-of-the-art elementary school program for students in grades 1-3 was developed. ThinkFirst For Kids addresses the major causes of traumatic brain and spinal cord injury that pose significant risk for children.

The ThinkFirst For Kids program was piloted in a mix of urban, rural and suburban schools at 12 sites throughout the United States. Teachers' evaluations and suggestions were used in writing the final draft of the curricula.

Program Components

Care was taken to ensure that the program would not only be a meaningful learning experience for children, but would also be user-friendly for teachers. Thus, the curriculum was designed to fit easily into teachers lesson plans and to be integrated into such subjects as math, science, reading and language. ThinkFirst For Kids has a complete set of supporting materials including reproducible exercise sheets, full-color classroom posters, comic strips and an animated cartoon video.

Each Lesson Includes:

  • Lesson objectives
  • Lesson information
  • Activities and handouts
  • A letter to parents
  • Suggested follow-up activities
  • Answer Key

Curriculum Manual

The manual includes three curricula (grades 1-3). Each curriculum has six lessons: an introductory lesson introducing brain and spinal cord injury, and five lessons addressing key areas of injury prevention. The curriculum also includes a resource section, a glossary of terms, an answer key and a copy-ready certificate for students at the completion of the program. A separate packet of reproducible exercise sheets is provided.

Following the introductory lesson on brain and spinal cord injury, the students will concentrate on five areas of injury prevention. Each lesson addresses the risks involved and the safety behaviors that help to prevent injury. The five lesson areas include the following:

  • Introduction to Preventing Brain And Spinal Cord Injury: Students learn simple facts related to the anatomy of the brain and spinal cord. 
  • Vehicular Safety: Students learn the importance of using safety belts and how to behave in a vehicle. The concept of the "danger zone" surrounding school buses is introduced, along with other aspects of pedestrian safety. 
  • Bicycle Safety: Students learn the importance of obeying traffic rules while riding bicycles. The value of protective helmets, reflectors, and other safety equipment is emphasized. 
  • Safety Around Weapons and Creative Problem Solving: personal safety around weapons and creative problem solving are detailed in this lesson. 
  • Playground, Recreation, and Sports Safety: The appropriate use of playground equipment, courteous play, use of protective gear, and street safety are emphasized. 
  • Water Safety: Students are taught diving precautions and safe behaviors around pools, lakes and other bodies of water.

Supporting Materials

Animated Video: This professionally produced, 10-minute cartoon, "Street Smart: A ThinkFirst Adventure," (edited 2012 version) introduces Street Smart, our safety superhero. Street Smart and his friends, Thomas, Maria and Kevin, begin to set the theme that you can still have fun while being safe. The video, designed to make students excited about safety, provides an overview of brain and spinal cord injury and highlights each of the five safety areas covered in the curriculum.

Classroom Posters: Each of the five safety lessons has an accompanying 18" x 24" brightly illustrated, color poster that highlights the key messages and reinforces the lesson.

Progressive Comic Strips: Each of the five safety lessons has an accompanying 8 1/2" x 11" double-sided comic strip. Each comic strip highlights and reinforces key messages in each safety lesson. This unique component allows students to color and "build" their very own safety comic book. Available in full-color or black/white.


Presentations:  Most ThinkFirst chapters offer free assembly presentations designed to kick-off the ThinkFirst For Kids program in a fun and educational manner. Contact a chapter near you to ask about presentations.

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