This month our preschool focused on community helpers ... and this week was all about firefighters. We always start off the week with discussions about fire safety (talking about having a meeting spot, why we have fire drills at school, stop-drop-roll, etc). We also read several books - which are always very helpful in illustrating the topic even further.
Books we read this week
This book talks about the life of a firefighter, their bravery, and how they save a pet. An important lesson for young children (for them to get out of the house and allow the firefighters to save your pet).
Another rhyming book, this one really highlights the parts of a fire engine (which many young children are fascinated by). When reading this, we focused on what the firefighters wear (helmet, fire jacket and pants, mask). We want children to remember not to HIDE if there is a fire - and not to be scared if they see a firefighter wearing a mask. Firefighters are there to help them.
Put the fire out activity
To extend our learning of firefighters, we had the children make their own pretend building out of Lego or Duplo bricks (or other building blocks). Then we gave them orange play dough and had them use that as the pretend fire on their building.
Next, we gave them plastic Duplo people (and other plastic figures from our block center) to pretend that those are the fire fighters. Using a piece of blue pipe cleaner, we attached that to the figure to simulate the fire hose. (When we did this, at first the hose looks very much like a "light saber" or sword! Yikes!) However, not one child pretended it was that. They were all very engaged in their buildings and putting their fires out!
We also used this activity as an opportunity to encourage our older 4's and 5's to cooperatively play in small groups. By giving them a limited number of bricks to work with, they could only make small structure. But, if they worked together and shared the bricks, they could make taller towers and work together to put their fires out.
The highlight of the week is the visit from the local fire department! When that truck comes in (lights and sirens going), most every kid is super excited and in awe (though we always do a have a few who are more tentative about it).
The firefighters are great ... letting the kids tour the truck, putting on all the gear, and letting the kids spray water from the hose! If you are able, I highly recommend inviting your local firefighters to visit your school or child care center!
Laura Eldredge is a teacher and curriculum coordinator at a NAEYC accredited early childhood program in Connecticut. She also co-founded the website The SEEDS Network, as a way to provide early childhood professionals with ideas and resources that support them in their quest to provide quality care and education to our youngest learners. She blogs at www.theseedsblog.com.