A Day in A Life – A Child’s Perspective: [A Learning Activity]

Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers encounter injury hazards daily. Head Start managers may want to use this learning activity to enlarge their understanding of these hazards. This is the companion (first half) of A Day in A Life - An Adult’s Perspective: [A Learning Activity.]

The following is an excerpt from Safety First: Preventing & Managing Childhood Injuries.

For This Activity You Will Need
Coach's Note
Points to Consider
Key to Activity: Injury Hazards - For Trainer Only

Purpose: This activity helps participants examine the injury hazards that children fact at home, in the community, and at the Head Start program each day. (This activity is a continuation of …A Day in A Life - The Adult's Perspective: [A Learning Activity]. )

For this activity you will need:

Step 1: Explain that this activity examines the injury hazards that children face at home, in the community, and at the Head Start program. It also explores the connection between injuries and child development.

Step 2: Ask participants: What are the major types of childhood injuries that you see in the Head Start program, at home, and in the community? List these on a flip chart paper (e.g., motor vehicle accidents, falls, burns, poisoning, drowning, choking, bites, family violence, etc.).

Step 3: Ask participants to think about the children's characteristics at each developmental stage that could place them at risk for injuries. Have participants complete the following sentences:

  • Infants (birth to one year) are...
    (e.g., almost totally dependent upon adults, not very mobile, changing quickly, exploring the world by putting things in their mouth, etc.)
  • Toddlers (ages one to three years) are...
    (e.g., exploring their independence, walking, climbing, running, very curious, imitating older children and adults, not understanding dangers, etc.)
  • Preschoolers (three to five years) are...
    (e.g., exploring their independence, vigorous, running fast, climbing high, throwing hard, imitating older children and adults, thinking they can do more than they can, having strong emotions and intense interactions with others, etc.)

Write down and post the responses for each developmental stage on a separate piece of flip chart paper.

Step 4: Distribute Handouts: An Infant's Day-Suzie, A Toddler's Day-Henry, A Preschooler's Day-Rickie, and three copies of Handout: Injury Hazards to the participants.

Coach's Note:
You may do all of the [three] handouts or select only one or two, depending on the amount of time available and the age of children with whom you work.

Step 5: Read Handout: An Infant's Day-Suzie. Use Handout: [A Toddler’s Day – Henry] as a guide to identify the safety hazards in the story. Based on the different locations and activities in the story, write down the possible "Cause of Injury" and "Type of Injury." For example:


  • Bedroom

Cause of Injury

  • crib

Type of Injury

  • strangulation

Tell participants to leave the column "Prevention Measures" blank for now - it will be completed in the continuation of this activity in … A Day in A Life - The Adult's Perspective: [A Learning Activity.]

Allow 10-15 minutes per story. Repeat for the other stories from A Toddler's Day-Henry and A Preschooler's Day-Rickie, if time permits.

Step 6: Ask participants: What are some of the risks for injury that are specific to each developmental stage?

Step 7: On flip chart paper, draw the Injury Triangle… Explain that this can help to examine in greater detail the factors that lead to injuries. From a scientific perspective, injuries are caused by an unsafe interaction between the child and the cause of the injury (e.g., the peanut that the child chokes on or the fire that burns the child). The cause of the injury can come into contact with and harm the child because of factors in the surrounding physical and social environment such as inadequate adult supervision, or an open gate around a swimming pool.

Step 8: Have participants identify one example of a possible injury from each story and explain specific factors related to the child, the cause, and the environment that could lead to this type of injury. For example:

Developmental Stage : Infant

Cause of Injury

  • Crib

Type of Injury

  • strangulation

Factors that could lead to this injury might include:

  • Child: very active in crib-sticks head through slats, stands up and shakes crib
  • Cause: old crib does not meet current safety standards-head could get stuck through widely spaced crib slats
  • Environment: three-year-old brother encourages baby to play "peek-a-boo" through crib slats

Step 9: Explain that, while some injury risks are specific to particular developmental stages, other risks are common across all ages.

Ask participants: What factors might place children of all ages at increased risk for injuries:

  • Child factors?
  • Causes of injury?
  • Environment factors?

Points to Consider:

  • Children have developmental characteristics that place them at risk for specific injuries at specific developmental stages.
  • Certain factors place children of all ages at risk for injuries (see Background Information, "Common Risk Factors for Injury").
  • Children face many hazards each day. Thankfully, due to proper adult supervision, and often, good luck, few of the hazards actually lead to serious injuries.

Key to Activity: Injury Hazards -For Trainer Only

Child: Suzie            Development Stage: Infant

Location/Activity Cause of Injury Type of Injury Prevention Measures
  • old crib with wide slats
  • window shade cord
  • paint chips
  • hood with drawstring
  • strangulation
  • strangulation
  • lead poisoning
  • strangulation
  • newer crib with narrow slats
  • move crib away from window, tie up cords
  • re-paint walls with lead-free paint
  • remove drawstring
Bathroom/Diapering Area
  • diaper table
  • baby powder
  • latex gloves
  • fall
  • choking
  • choking
  • keep secure on table
  • don't give baby powder
  • don't give latex gloves
Kitchen/Eating Area
  • high chair
  • hot milk
  • feeding table
  • cleaning fluids in cabinet under sink
  • meat chunks
  • fall
  • burn
  • scratches
  • poisoning
  • choking
  • use safety strap, no standing
  • warm bottle under tap or in pot, shake well
  • supervise
  • safety lock on cabinet
  • cut meat in small pieces or puree
  • pickup truck
  • double parking
  • car crash
  • car/pedestrian injury
  • use car seat and seat belts
  • park at curb or parking lot
Play Activities at Head Start and at Home
  • painted blocks
  • electric cord
  • earrings, necklace
  • infant walker
  • candy
  • lead poisoning
  • electrocution
  • choking
  • fall, crushed fingers
  • choking
  • lead-free or plastic blocks
  • supervise, get cord out of reach
  • don't wear dangling jewelry
  • supervise, no infant walker
  • no candy

Key to ActivityInjury Hazards - For Trainer Only

Child: Henry            Development Stage: Toddler

Location/Activity Cause of Injury Type of Injury Prevention Measures
Bedroom/Nap room
  • vitamins, cigarettes
  • gun
  • chair to dresser
  • poisoning
  • shooting
  • fall
  • vitamins, cigarettes out of reach
  • gun and ammunition separate, locked up, and out of reach
  • clothes at child's level
Bathroom/Diapering Area
  • potty "accident"
  • pushing at sink
  • fall, child abuse
  • fall
  • supervise, parent education or developmentally appropriate expectations and discipline
  • supervise, "no pushing" rules
Kitchen/Eating Area
  • steam kettle, stove
  • hot oatmeal
  • jumping when eating carrots and dinner
  • burn
  • burn
  • fall, choking
  • supervise, pot on back burner
  • cool down, test temperature
  • eat sitting down
  • running across street
  • criminal activity
  • car/pedestrian crash
  • shooting
  • use crosswalk
  • find safer route, advocate for community safety
Play Activities at Head Start and at Home
  • pushing each other
  • marble
  • television violence
  • throwing sand
  • fall
  • choking
  • violence
  • eye injury
  • supervise, structured activities, "no pushing" rules
  • supervise, age-appropriate toys
  • no violent television, age-appropriate activities
  • more shovels, "no throwing sand" rule

Key to Activity : Injury Hazards - For Trainer Only

Child: Rickie        Development Stage: Preschooler

Location/Activity Cause of Injury Type of Injury Prevention Measures
Bedroom/Nap room
  • paint chips
  • lead poisoning
  • paint walls
Bathroom/Diapering Area      
Kitchen/Eating Area
  • eating clay, sand, plants
  • eating dinner without washing hands
  • poisoning, infectious disease
  • poisoning, infectious disease
  • supervise, check for nutritional deficiency, nontoxic plants
  • wash hands before meals
Play Activities at Head Start and at Home
  • jumping off swings onto hard, dirt surface
  • high climbing structure
  • diving down slide
  • carpentry
  • care by 8-year-old
  • barefoot outdoors
  • farm equipment, tools, nails, chemicals
  • irrigation ditch, drainage pipes
  • fall
  • fall
  • fall
  • hand injury
  • any type of injury
  • puncture wound
  • crushing, punctures, amputation, poisoning
  • drowning, animal/snake bite
  • supervise, "no jumping" rules, proper absorbent surface under swings
  • climbing structure lower than six feet
  • supervise "no diving" rules
  • supervise "proper hammering" rules
  • adult supervision after school
  • wear shoes outdoors
  • lock shed
  • safer play area

See also:
     A Day in a Life – The Adult’s Perspective: [A Learning Activity]

A Day in A Life – A Child’s Perspective: [A Learning Activity]. Safety First: Preventing & Managing Childhood Injuries. Training Guides for the Head Start Learning Community. HHS/ACF/OHS/NCH. 1996. English.

Last Reviewed: June 2010

Last Updated: August 26, 2015