When I am driving the car and my toddler is the passenger, he loves to use the traffic light signal to tell me when to go and stop. “Go mommy! Green light!” he says. Since February is Black History month, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to teach my son the contributions of black people.
I began by telling my son about Garrett Morgan and why he invented the three-position traffic light signal.
One day, Mr. Morgan was driving and saw a car accident. The accident happened because the traffic light signal switched back and forth between Stop and Go with no warning of slowing down. Mr. Morgan designed the warning signal, which today is the yellow light. The warning signal gives drivers a chance to slow down before stopping. This has decreased many car accidents.
I decided to supplement the lesson with a fun childhood game called Red Light Green Light.
In this game, one person is chosen to be the traffic cop. The other children stand in a line while the traffic cop has his/her back to them. When the cop says “Green Light” the children try to run to the finish line. When the cop calls “Red Light” he/she turns to face the children and the players have to stop.
I explain to my son that this is how people drove their cars before Mr. Morgan’s invention.
We THEN play Red Light, Green Light, Yellow Light. This game includes Mr. Morgan’s warning signal (yellow light). My son realizes it is much easier to stop if there’s a warning signal.
We also play both games with his toy cars. Instead of running, we race the cars around the house.
Have fun learning!