Teacher's Guide
Fire Prevention
Grade Levels: PreK–8  

Theme Overview
October is National Fire Prevention Month. It provides a good opportunity to teach students about fire safety — in their own homes, in the community, and in the wilderness. We have pulled together a variety of resources to help you focus your teaching on this important topic. You may choose to create a theme for your classroom that incorporates most of the activities or select just one or two to support your own curriculum needs. The activities have been developed to target different grade levels, so you may need to make some modifications before using them in your classroom.


*Theme Overview
*National Standards Correlations
*Thematic Activities

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National Standards Correlations
The activities in this unit support a variety of national standards. Every activity supports a subset of the standards listed below. Relevant standards for English/Language Arts as stated by the International Reading Association and National Council of Teachers of English:

  • Read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world.
  • Adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • Use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (learning, enjoyment, and exchange of information).

Relevant thematic strands as set forth in the Curriculum Standards for Social Studies of the National Council for the Social Studies:

  • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of interactions among individuals, groups, and institutions.
  • People, Places, and Environments: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments.

Relevant standards for science instruction as described in the National Science Education Standards:

  • develop abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry;
  • develop understanding of organisms and environments;
  • develop understanding of science and technology.

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Thematic Activities

In these activities, students have the opportunity to meet a firefighter and find out about the clothes firefighters wear and equipment they use to fight fires.

Learning Objectives
By participating in this activity, students will:

  • learn about the work of a firefighter;
  • learn about the firefighters' clothes and equipment;
  • read for information;
  • use visual cues and context to read new words;
  • build sight-word vocabulary;
  • use sequencing skills to enhance comprehension of a short reading passage.

Community Club — Meet a Firefighter (PreK-2)

  1. This activity can be introduced with a discussion about fires. How can they be prevented? How are they stopped? What should students do if they smell smoke or see a fire?
  2. Depending on the reading level of your students, you may want to click through the story with them, or they may be able to read the story on their own. Students can also click the audio icons to hear sentences read aloud.
  3. After they finish reading, students can review what they've learned by completing the cloze activity at the end of the story. Students click on the correct word to complete each sentence. This activity can also be used to assess students' reading skills, including reading comprehension and sight-word vocabulary.
  4. After successfully completing this activity, students receive a customized badge with the firefighter's signature that can be printed out and colored.
  5. As an extension, invite a firefighter to visit the class. If this is not practical, students could be encouraged to write down their questions, which could then be sent to a firefighter. You may also want to take your students on a field trip to a fire station.

Firefighters Dress for the Job and Fire Gear (Grades PreK-2)

  1. As an introduction, ask students to help you make a list of the equipment firefighters use in fighting fires. What is the purpose of the various pieces of equipment?
  2. Copy and hand out Firefighters Dress for the Job. Why do firefighters need special clothing?
  3. Copy and hand out the Fire Gear reproducible. After completing this reproducible, have students compare it to the list made earlier. What other equipment do firefighters use in putting out fires? (e.g., hoses)

At the Scene of the Fire (Grades 3-5)

  1. Before handing out the reading passage, outline the steps firefighters follow in fighting a fire. Write the steps on the blackboard or on chart paper.
  2. Distribute the reading passage and reproducible. After students have completed it, have them check their work.
  3. As a group, compare the stages of fighting a fire as outlined in the reproducible to the steps outlined earlier. Is there anything that should be added to the original outline?
  4. This activity can be adapted for younger students by reading the passage aloud to them, or by having them follow along as you read it aloud. Then, outline the fire-fighting steps from the passage using an overhead projector, the blackboard, or index cards, depending on the writing level of your students.

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Forest Fires
Students learn about wildfires and their effects by using these activities, including a cross-curricular online theme unit from Instructor magazine.

Learning Objectives
By participating in this activity, students will:

  • learn about wildfires and fighting them;
  • use Web sites to find information;
  • practice map-reading skills;
  • read newspaper articles;
  • practice note-taking skills;
  • learn about different kinds of trees;
  • find out how forests recover from wildfires;
  • utilize critical thinking.

Wildfires Online Theme Unit (Grades 4-8)

Detailed instructions are included in the theme unit itself. As an extension, you may want to encourage students to utilize other resources – both online and offline – to find out additional information about forest fires.

Seed Mystery (Grades 4-8)

  1. Show students a photo of a recently burned forest. Have they ever seen images like that on the news? How about in real life?
  2. Can students think of any way that things might be able to grow in that environment?
  3. Distribute the clues as a reproducible or write them on the board. Lead students through the clues to determine how seedlings can appear so quickly after a forest fire.
  4. You might also want to use this activity as a follow-up to the Wildfires Online Theme Unit.

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Fire Safety
National Fire Prevention Month provides a great opportunity to instruct students about fire safety, both inside the home and out. These activities can help you achieve this goal.

Learning Objectives
By participating in this activity, students will:

  • practice basic map-reading skills;
  • plan an escape route from a fire.
  • line will be added about Web site!!

Fire-Safety Map (Grades 1-3)

  1. Introduce this activity by brainstorming ways for students to keep their homes and themselves safe from fire. For instance, do they need smoke alarms? Do they have escape routes planned so they can get out of their homes quickly?
  2. Copy the Fire Safety Map and distribute it to your students. Younger students may need help reading the directions.
  3. Discuss the reproducible. Why is it important to have a smoke alarm? A meeting place?
  4. As an extension, invite students to help you make a fire safety checklist and map for the school. Are there any fire hazards? Are there smoke detectors? Where are the fire alarms? How should students get out if there is a fire?

National Fire Prevention Month Web site
This Web site was produced through a collaborative effort between the National Fire Prevention Association and the Forest Service. It contains a variety of resources and information that can be used during National Fire Prevention Month. On the site, you will find activity sheets, lessons, stories, and other information about National Fire Prevention Month, Sparky the Fire Dog, and Smokey Bear.

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Here are some additional resources available from Scholastic that you could use to further develop your theme unit.

Clifford the Firehouse Dog
by Norman Bridwell
Everyone's favorite Big Red Dog visits the firehouse to help out and learn some important lessons about fire safety.
RZB96101, Big Book Unit, Grades 1–2
RZB96441, Big Book and Teaching Guide
RZB48419, Paperback

I'm Going to Be a Firefighter
by Edith Kunhardt Davis
Holly wants to be a firefighter, just like her dad. Readers visit Holly and her father and learn important information about fire safety and equipment.
RZB25483, 32 pp., Grades PreK–2

by Joy Masoff
Readers experience close–up the thrilling details of fighting fires — all in a dynamic, photo–filled, colorful layout.
RZB97872, 56 pp., Grades 4–6

The Great Fire
by Jim Murphy
By weaving together personal accounts of actual survivors with carefully researched historic detail, this award-winning book recreates the Chicago fire of 1871.
RZB47266, 160 pp., Grades 3–5