Dentists, by Cecila Minden

            This book answers the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of being a dentist.  This is a good book to use for further study of dentists.


  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Small bowls
  • Old toothbrushes
  • 3-4 dirty pennies per child
  • Camera
  • Pictures of foods cut from magazines, off the Internet, or from a nutrition set


  • Pediatric (a doctor whose patients are only children)
  • Cavity (a hole that occurs in your tooth from decay and not brushing)
  • Explorer (the pick like tool that dentists use)
  • Operatory (the special room that you see the dentist in that has his tools)

Before Reading the Story

           Begin a discussion about the many different kinds of jobs that are in your area.  Ask the children what they think they would like to be.  If no one says they want to be a dentist, ask them if they ever thought that a dentist would be a good job to have?  Introduce the book.

Social & Emotional Development/Knowledge of Families & Communities; develops awareness of jobs and what is required to perform them.

Reading the Story

            This book has a lot of information that might be too much for preschool aged children.  Use this to do a picture walk and touch upon highlights on each page.  When the book talks about the education needed to be a dentist, make sure to tell the children that they have to continue to work hard at school and let them know that you are proud of them. 

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; shows growing interest and involvement in listening to and discussing a variety of fiction and non-fiction books and poetry.

After Reading the Story

            Go back through the pages with the children asking who, what, where, when, and why questions and see which children are able to answer.  

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; demonstrates progress in abilities to retell and dictate stories from books and experiences; to act out stories in dramatic play; and to predict what will happen next in a story. And Physical Health & Development/Health Status & Practices; builds awareness and ability to follow basic health and safety rules.


Pour a small amount of baking soda and vinegar into several bowls to make a paste like consistency.  Have the children drop 3-4 dirty pennies into the baking soda and vinegar mixture.  Show them how to use the toothbrush to scrub the penny.  The combination of baking soda and vinegar will begin to clean the penny.  Talk about how the mixture is like your toothpaste and the penny is like your teeth.  Make the pennies shine. 

Science/Scientific Skills & Methods; begins to use senses and a variety of tools and simple measuring devices to gather information, investigate materials, and observe processes and relationships. AND Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; develops growing strength, dexterity, and control needed to use tools such as scissors, paper punch, stapler, and hammer.

Music and Movement

           Sing the Toothbrush Song to the tune of Here We Round the Mulberry Bush.

We use our toothbrush to clean our teeth, clean our teeth, clean our teeth.

We use our toothbrush to clean our teeth after we eat.

Physical Health & Development/Health Status & Practices; builds awareness and ability to follow basic health and safety rules.

            Have the children sit in a circle and put on some lively music.  The children can pass a toothbrush around the circle and when the music stops the child holding the toothbrush must name something that you use your teeth for.  Expect children to repeat answers, which is o.k. because they are understanding that teeth are important.  If the children cannot think of something that they use their teeth for you can pantomime eating, chewing, talking, smiling, and biting. 

Approaches to Learning/Reasoning & Problem Solving; develops increasing ability to find more than one solution to a question, task, or problem.


            Show the children how to form cubes with play dough by squeezing a ball on the sides and top.  Encourage the children to make a row of play dough cubes and gently stick them together.  Give the children Popsicle sticks or toothpicks and tell them to pretend that these are the “explorer” that the dentist uses.  Poke between the teeth, on top of the teeth, underneath the teeth. 

Creative Arts/Dramatic Play; shows growing creativity and imagination in using materials and in assuming different roles in dramatic play situations. AND Approaches to Learning/Engagement & Persistence; grows in abilities to persist in and complete a variety of tasks, activities, projects, and experiences. AND Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; builds an increasing understanding of directionality, order, and positions of objects, and words such as up, down, over, under, top, bottom, inside, out-side, in front, and behind.

Library and Writing

            Remind the children that Dentists have to be good readers and writers.  On index cards write the word Dentist and tooth.  Encourage the children to copy the words onto a piece of paper. 

Literacy/Early Writing; progresses from using scribbles, shapes, or pictures to represent ideas, to using letter-like symbols, to copying or writing familiar words such as their own name.

Make a book titled, “Whose Teeth?”  Take two pictures of the child.  One will be a picture of the child’s face as he/she is smiling.  The other will be just of the child’s smile so that you can see minimal amount of the face.  On the front page put the picture of the smile only and write, “Whose smile?”  On the back of the page put the picture of the child’s smiling face.  Ask the children to tell you something that makes them smile and write it under their picture.  (I smile when my Mom makes me pizza!  I smile when my Grandpa comes to my house). 

Language Development/Speaking & Communicating; develops increasing abilities to understand and use language to communicate information, experiences, ideas, feelings, opinions, needs, questions; and for other varied purposes.


            Challenge the children to use the blocks to make a letter T for tooth and a letter D for Dentist. Encourage them to try to make letters in their names.  

Literacy/Alphabet Knowledge; shows progress with associating th names of letters with their shapes and sounds.

Dramatic Play

            Give the children some of the materials that you use at large group time (dry erase board, flannel board, an attendance sheet, etc.) and let the children play school. 

Creative Arts/Dramatic Play; participates in a variety of dramatic play activities that become more extended and complex.

Math and Manipulatives

            On a piece of paper draw a tooth and give it a happy face.  On another piece of paper draw a tooth and give it a sad face.  Let the children use the pictures of food that you have brought and sort them by food that is good for your teeth on the happy tooth and food that is not good for your teeth on the sad tooth. 

Mathematics/Patterns & Measurement; shows growth in matching, sorting, putting in a series, and regrouping objects according to one or two attributes such as shape or size.


           Look for small rocks on the playground that look kind of like teeth.  Collect them in a bucket.  At the end of your outdoor time, help the children to count the number of ‘teeth’ that you have collected. 

Mathematics/Number & Operations; begins to make use of one-to-one correspondence in counting objects and matching groups of objects.


            As children leave to go to the next center, ask them if they think they might like to be a dentist, make a graph of yes and no. 

Mathematics/Number & Operations; begins to associate number concepts, vocabulary, quantities, and written numerals in meaningful ways. AND Social & Emotional Development/Self-Concept; begins to develop and express awareness of self in terms of specific abilities, characteristics, and preferences.

As the children go to brush their teeth today say the following poem from the Colgate web site.

(Kerry’s)/_______ off the brush his/her teeth

The front, the sides, the back

He’ll/she’ll clean away and move away

The yucky, yucky plaque.

Dear Parent-

           Today we learned about what it takes to become a Dentist.  Ask your child if they think they would like to become a Dentist.  If they say yes, ask them why?  If the say no, ask them if they know what they would like to become?

About Kerry CI am an Early Childhood Educator who has seen daily the value of shared book readings with my preschoolers. I use the book theme in my centers and can daily touch upon a variety of Early Childhood Domains which makes assessing the children easy and individualized.