Safety Skills: How to teach your child to memorize his phone number

If your child ever got separated from you, would they know your name and phone number to give to a trusted adult? These simple activities will give your kids a key tool to keep them safe in case of such an emergency.If your child ever got separated from you, would they know your name and phone number to give to a trusted adult? These simple activities will give your kids a key tool to keep them safe in case of such an emergency.Did you know that this week is Fire Prevention Week?

Little Man is four now, and I figured it would be a good idea to start teaching him some basic emergency skills, especially knowing a phone number to give a trusted adult if he ever got lost or separated from us in an emergency situation. I suppose it’s not exactly fire safety, but it’s essential information for kids to know.

We’ve used some time during our home preschool over the past several weeks to talk about the different helpers in our community (firemen, police men, doctors, etc.) and what we need to know for emergencies when we might talk to those helpers.

We talked about three things he might need to tell a grown up helper:

  1. His name
  2. Dad’s name and mom’s name
  3. Our phone number

It was kind of funny to me that when I asked him what Daddy’s name was, he could tell me with no trouble, but when I asked him what Mommy’s name was, he looked at me funny and said, “Mommy?” I prompted him further, asking him what Daddy calls me, but he still couldn’t tell me. Oh my. We have some work to do. But that’s one of the reasons I love doing preschool with my boys–because I can address these important life skills with them.

It was pretty easy to teach him Mommy’s name, but learning a 10 digit phone number has proven to be a little more tricky–understandably.

Here are some of the activities I did to help Little Man memorize his phone number. Mind you, I didn’t do all of these on one day. I started with the matching game, and I picked one or two activities a day to do with Little Man. This way, he didn’t get burned out on it, but he spent a little time every day re-learning the numbers and committing them to memory. Now he can rattle them off like a pro!

Teach your preschooler your phone number
in 6 easy steps:

1. Match it up

The first thing I did was show Little Man my phone number (the picture below is a made up number I made just to show you what I did). We said the numbers aloud together, and then I gave him a mixed up pile of cards with each of the numbers on them. I had him unscramble them and put the cards in order underneath a larger strip of paper with my phone number written on it. At this point, I just wanted to give him exposure to what a phone number looks like.If your child ever got separated from you, would they know your name and phone number to give to a trusted adult? These simple activities will give your kids a key tool to keep them safe in case of such an emergency.

2. Clap it out

Next, I invited Little Man to say each number in order while clapping along with a rhythm. Basically, I just said it the way I would say my phone number to anyone else, pausing at the dashes. I think it helped him internalize how many digits there are in our phone number.

3. Sing it

To add even more memory power, we sang our phone number to the tune of Frere Jacques, which I learned from Jo over at Lasting Thumbprints. Click here to see her fun idea for how to put your phone number to that tune. I like using this song because it uses repetition, so I would sing the first part, then Little Man would repeat it back, and so on. Little Man thinks it’s a pretty funny song, and he usually ends up yelling the numbers to me, but that’s okay with me as long as he learns them.

4. Make it big

I originally made a giant phone keypad for Little Man to practice dialing 9-1-1, which he mastered quickly. In fact, he would randomly stop while he was walking by it and pound it out on the wall. Good! So, I used it again with memorizing our phone number as well. I posted my phone number above it, and I let him pound away at the keypad on the wall, encouraging him to do the numbers in the right order and say them aloud as he went.

If your child ever got separated from you, would they know your name and phone number to give to a trusted adult? These simple activities will give your kids a key tool to keep them safe in case of such an emergency.

To download and print your own giant phone keypad, click here.

giant-practice-phone-on-the-wallNote: I cut out the “keys” and glued them onto a extra piece of poster board I had on hand, but you could also just tape the papers directly to an empty wall.

5. Stomp it out

Because the attention span of little kids is SUPER short, and because I understand the power of novelty, we reinvented our giant wall keypad outside by writing it with sidewalk chalk on the back patio. This way, Little Man could stomp or jump it out, almost like hopscotch.

If your child ever got separated from you, would they know your name and phone number to give to a trusted adult? These simple activities will give your kids a key tool to keep them safe in case of such an emergency.

6. Practice on a real phone

Last but not least, I gave Little Man a chance to practice on a real phone. First, I used a printable paper phone keypad that I got from One Mom and a Blog, but then he “graduated” to using a real phone. Once he had it memorized, I let him use Daddy’s phone to call Mommy’s phone and see if he could place a real call. For him, the chance to make a real phone call was really motivating and he wanted to keep practicing!

IMPORTANT NOTE:

When teaching kids to dial a phone number, make sure that they learn not only the digits, but also how to get INTO your phone app and how to push the call button. My sister, who is a second grade teacher, pointed out to me that when she trains her students at school with the RAD Kids program (which I hope my own kids get to do someday), so many kids fail at dialing 9-1-1 because they know the numbers, but they forget to press the call button.

Also, how many of us have locks on our phones to prevent kids or strangers from getting access? But, consider, if you were ever unconscious for some reason, and your child needed to dial 9-1-1, would they know how to access the emergency function on the phone to do so? Do you even know how to work the emergency mode? Food for thought.

I’ve been so proud of all that Little Man has learned through our lessons. Hopefully, he won’t ever be in an emergency situation (although knowing our phone number will come in handy anyway), but I feel better knowing he’s a little more prepared.

What tips do you have have for teaching kids what to do in emergency situations?

If your child ever got separated from you, would they know your name and phone number to give to a trusted adult? These simple activities will give your kids a key tool to keep them safe in case of such an emergency.

Here are some more fun activities for fire safety week:

Fire safety scavenger hunt (Pre-K Pages)
*
Little Man became a little obsessed with this, in a good way, looking for all the items not only at home but also in any stores we visit.

F is for Fire craft (My Mommy Style)

Fire safety word wall cards (First Grade Garden)
* I printed these and cut each word strip into two with different line shapes to make mini puzzles for Little Man to put together. He loved it!

3 fire safety activities (Laly Mom)
*
We turned her idea for a fire safety smoke crawl into a full fledged fire safety obstacle course! Lots of fun, and reinforced all the things we need to do in case of a fire.

21 thoughts on “Safety Skills: How to teach your child to memorize his phone number

    1. Thanks, Doris. In my experience, if I can approach a topic from enough different directions and incorporate it into our play, I have a much better chance of getting my boys to actually learn the things I’m teaching. Hopefully others will find it helpful, too!

      1. Love you varied methods to help the little ones learn their phone numbers. As well, with my students we role play the emergency call. With that comes the need to give your name and address. At least half of my grade one students do not know any of this information. I enlist the parents’ help when I know their child needs to practise all of these things.

    1. Thanks, Marla! It’s something I feel strongly about because it’s such a little thing that could make a big difference. But I also think it’s one of those things we don’t even think about as parents that we need to be teaching.

  1. This only recently occurred to me and I’ve been drilling with my 4 year old daughter. Not so much fun for her, I’ll have to incorporate some of your suggestions! Right now it’s a combination of our house number and my cell. While she did get my name right (she’s been dying to call me by my first name), she couldn’t seem to figure out what my last name would be…

  2. This is a very important thing to teach the little ones. I think my little guy would enjoy learning on the giant key pad.

  3. This is such a great idea! I love it. I think as adults we don’t even remember numbers because we just use our phones all the time. I teach and there are so many children who don’t know their phone number. I love the strategies you used!

    1. Thanks! I have had several conversations with friends recently about how it is weird that we often don’t even know our best friends’ phone numbers now (unless we knew them before cell phones) because we just tap their name, and the phone does the rest. My husband and I even had to sit down and memorize each other’s numbers just to make sure we knew them in case our phones died or something. I would hate to have to call my parents to get my husband’s number. 🙂

        1. Agreed! Yes, that is an important detail. With my son, we talked about when you WOULD and WOULDN’T call 911 and what an emergency really is.

  4. These are fabulous tips!! My daughter is a bit young yet, but this is perfect to work into our safety session of the Preschool I run. Love this post!!

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