KinderGals: Teaching Fire Safety to Young Children

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Teaching Fire Safety to Young Children

Have you heard of themes, units, studies, integrated curriculum? Are you afraid to use those words thinking that they are "bad" words? Why is it that in education certain practices are often applied in ways that are not effective, yet little time is taken to see why? Teaching a theme is more than matching fire dogs and fire fighters with capital and lower case letters. Themes, units, studies or integrated curriculum are all ways of saying the same thing.  Teaching with this approach allows for the teacher to make connections between content areas and to show the children how we use reading, writing, and math to learn about concepts in science and social studies that interest us. It is a way we can bridge our day together as we use a certain topic in our shared reading, read a louds, writing projects, graphic organizers, and on and for a more global approach to teaching.  I love hearing young teachers talk about "setting the stage to engage". This concept is theme teaching on steroids!
 A few weeks ago I was working in Illinois. Since I'm not very good at geography, it wasn't until Adam, from Teachers Learn Too, texted me that I realized I was going to be pretty close to his school!  Adam and I started our friendship many years ago when he was a first year teacher.  Most of you know that I have a daughter and a daughter in law who are both teachers. But, Adam is like my teaching son! I am so proud of him, his character, his dedication to his profession, and his ongoing thirst to improve his craft. This post is all about the day that I spent in his room.
How pumped was I when Adam asked me if I wanted to teach a lesson! I visit lots of classrooms, but I  never want to take over or make the teacher feel uncomfortable because I'm there. Adam wanted me to introduce the Dalmatian/fire hydrant phoneme segmentation game. First, after a little challenge of my own trying to figure out how to use the document camera, I modeled how to play the game. (Thanks Adam for being patient with this old dog!) This was MY TURN.
 Then, we transition to OUR TURN. You could tell that Adam's kids were very comfortable with this type of teaching. They quickly moved into their little groups to get ready to try it out. (Good job, Adam!) As I named each of the pictures, the kids would segment the word together as one child in each group slid the hydrants onto the game board. We repeated the process with several cards giving all of the children a chance to try it out. During this time, Adam and I observed. Who was getting it? Who was having a hard time sliding the hydrants? We can use this data to help form small groups where Adam can support the children who need it while challenging those who are ready.
Now it's YOUR TURN. Adam can move this activity into one of his centers. The children are familiar with the game. Even those who had difficulty with the skill, know the HOW to play. The concept will come with repeated practice.
Here are a few of the other activities we did in Adam's room. To play this game, we would spin the spinner. The children would put that many buckets on their fives frame ladder. Then, they would have to determine how many more they would need to make a 5.
Adam had a parent volunteer who worked with the children to create this Dalmatian. 
Before gluing the letters onto their Dalmatians, they used the letters to do one of two activities. Some children could sort the letters in various ways and record their sort on the recording page. Other children could use the letters to think of little words they could make with those letters.
For two days before I came, Adam was already building schema for fire safety. Each day they tackled one section of the tree map. As Adam completed the large tree map, the children each worked to complete their own tree maps.
Labeling a Fire Fighter is a great connection to non-fiction features. Try to find a fire safety book that uses labels as your mentor text prior to this lesson.  As you are matching the labels to the various parts, think about using the reading strategy "good readers look at the first letter." Each word starts with a different letter except boots and badge. For these two words show the children how to look all the way through the word.
 Whether your school has nap time or not, I love this idea for a little down time. Each day, Adam has "rest and write". During this time the children are applying their "theme" to a concept in language arts. Today they were applying their knowledge about fire fighters in order to make connections. The kids were also learning that good readers make connections to the characters in the story. This helps us understand why characters do and say the things they do and say.
 At first Adam's kids were a little hesitant. They wanted help "spelling the words." When we realized they were all feeling less than equipped to do the assigned task, we assured them. We simply told them to do their best. They could use pictures, letters, and words to help us understand how they made connections to fire fighters. 
Another activity that I LOVE to do with fire safety is to make a fire truck brace map. (This activity was done in Ginny's prek room, not Adam's.) After reading the kids a book about fire trucks, I took a clip art image of a fire truck and cut it apart to make all of the pieces. We then worked together to label each part, just like we had done when we labeled the fire fighter.  Now, the fun part.  I gave each child a baggie with the pieces needed to make a fire truck snack.  We talked about each part of the fire truck and which part of the snack represented that part on the fire truck. The children then assembled their snack.  After eating the snack, I gave each child a brace map recording page. Here they drew the parts of the fire engine. Some labeled with beginning sounds, some used pictures, and some copied the words from the large brace map.
Some more math activities you could explore include number combinations fire badges, fire fighter glyph, roll and race fire trucks, and number combination Dalmatians.
Some more literacy activities include fire bucket rhyming sort, beginning sound fire hydrant flap book, and 5 Cute Dalmatians Song.
In Science and Social Studies we could compare doctors and firefighters after learning about each. The children make a fire fighter paper doll book where they record their learning about fire fighters.
Ideas for this blog post were taken from Fire Fighters.
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