Fire Safety: Activities to Spark Learning!
A firehouse full of cross-curriculum activities and fire-related Web sites for Fire Prevention Week in October.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Children playing with matches appears to have been the cause of a fire that killed a 6-year-old boy in the home he shared with his mother and five siblings, authorities said Sunday.
How many times have you read or heard a news story like that one?
Each year, children set more than 100,000 fires, according to the United States Fire Administration (USFA). And children make up nearly a quarter of all fire-related deaths. About 40 percent of fires that kill children under 5 years old are set by children playing with fire.
Fire Prevention Week is a great time to review some basic fire safety facts with students across the grades, to check out some terrific fire safety Web sites, and to engage students in fire safety activities that get them talking and learning about the dangers of fire.
But, remember, fire safety is a year-round discussion! This year's Fire Prevention Week kit includes information about winter fire safety, holiday fire safety, spring storm fire safety, safety around fireworks, and more.
Each year, more than 4,500 Americans die and more than 30,000 are injured in fires. Many of those deaths and injuries could have been prevented if people had a better understanding of fire, USFA officials say. USFA's Fact Sheet on the Nature of Fire includes lots of valuable information, including:
In the event of a fire, remember that
Listening. Read aloud the brief story The Cow That Destroyed Chicago (or "Why We Celebrate National Fire Prevention Week"). When you've finished reading the story, ask the questions below to test students' listening comprehension. (Note: For younger listeners, you might read the story in two parts.)
Community service. Older students can take responsibility for teaching younger students about fire safety. (Older elementary students might target younger students in the school; middle and high school students might target elementary students.) All students benefit! The students who create the materials learn by doing and the younger students are exposed to information that might save their lives. And younger students see the older kids as role models for community involvement. Possible projects: Among the projects older students might create are fire safety newsletters featuring fun puzzles, comic strips, coloring pages, poems and other things for kids to do or to read; fact sheets for kids to take home to their parents; or a how-to sheet for creating a home escape plan. Students might even create a fire safety Web page for their community. Click here for additional project ideas from a middle-school teacher in Michigan. The possibilities are endless!
Fire safety quiz. Take one of the Chevron Cars Fire Safety Quizzes. All ages will have fun with -- and learn from -- the quiz. See Smokey Bear's Web site for additional activities, including a forest fire prevention quiz, a campfire word unscramble, and more fun games and activities.
Survey/graphing. Invite each student to count how many smoke detectors his/her family has in their home. Create a simple bar graph showing how many families have one, two, three, four, or five or more smoke detectors. Talk about where each smoke detector is located in the home and why the family chose to put a smoke detector there.
Coloring. For young children, print out the Fire Prevention Week Coloring Pages and duplicate.
Graph and chart reading. Use the Fire Facts sheet from your Fire Prevention Week kit (see Resources) or click here for a copy that can be printed out and duplicated for use as a learning center activity. Use the following questions to check students' comprehension of the four graphs/charts on the fact sheet. (Answers are shown in parentheses.)
Think About It!
Art. Hold a school-wide fire safety poster contest. Winning posters at each grade level might be displayed in the public library or in the windows of local grocery stores.
Writing. Invite a representative of the fire department to come into class to talk with your students. (Students might prepare questions for the firefighter in advance -- questions about fire safety and about fire fighting as a career.) Then students can use the information they gather to write a "news story" about the firefighter's visit.
Family involvement. Hold a family night in which a firefighter speaks to families about fire safety. The firefighter can lead families as they create fire escape plans for their homes. Informational packets that include fire-safety tips for parents and fun fire-safety activities for kids can be handed out. Students of all ages, but especially younger students, might want to share copies of their plans. Activity and informational resources might include Basic Fire Escape Planning.
Safety/art. Talk about fire safety hazards in the home. Make a list of hazards. Then invite students to draw a cutaway picture of a home that shows a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a bedroom. The illustration should include at least ten fire hazards for others to identify. Hazards might include a T-shirt tossed over a lamp; a lit candle near a window; a hair dryer teetering on the edge of a sink full of water; a towel close to a space heater; an adult smoking as s/he lays on the couch; a frying pan on the stove with the handle pointing outward (a small child nearby); newspapers close to the fireplace; too many electrical cords plugged into one outlet; a smoke detector hanging loosely from the ceiling; a lit cigarette in an unattended ashtray; and a lighter left on a table -- to name just a few! Once complete, students should exchange illustrations and list the fire hazards in the picture they receive.
Crack the Code. Assign a different number from 1-26 to each letter of the alphabet. (For 2nd and 3rd graders A might be 1, B might be 2, etc. For older students, the code can be mixed up or students might create their own codes.) Then use the assigned code to write out some fire safety messages in number form. For example, using the simple A=1 code, the coded message 14-5-22-5-18 16-12-1-25 23-9-20-8 13-1-20-3-8-5-19 1-14-4 12-9-6-8-20-5-18-19 would translate to NEVER PLAY WITH MATCHES AND LIGHTERS. Other codes for students to crack would translate to fire safety messages such as FIRE IS FAST!, TEST SMOKE DETECTORS ONCE A MONTH, and PRACTICE YOUR FAMILY ESCAPE PLAN.
Great Chicago Fire Web Site Rich in Language Arts
The Web Site "The Great Chicago Fire and The Web of Memory" explores the historic fire in ways that engender rich Language Arts activities.
Curious Kids Set Fires
A fact sheet from the United States Fire Administration (USFA).
Working Together for Home Fire Safety
A nice resource for parents, teachers, and older students from USFA.
A Fire Safety Web Site for Middle School Students
This Web site, for students grades 5-8, encourages students to "get informed and inform others." Site includes links to other sites and a list of projects for middle school students.
Smokey's Web site includes fun activities for kids, Smokey's rules, pen pals, and links to other resources.
Kids' Fire Safety Tips
Scroll down the page for some fun illustrations with tips from Buzzy the Smoke Detector, Reddy the Fire Extinguisher, Squirt the Water Drop and other fire safety friends.
Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 2010 Education World
Originally published 10/06/1997
Last updated 07/11/2011