October is here, and for many of us, that means it is time to teach about Fire Safety. I always found this a fun topic to teach, and there are so many great resources out there you can use to add to your lessons. If you would like a FREE LESSON PLAN to use with this unit, scroll to the bottom of this post.
****I HAVE A FEW FREE DOWNLOADS AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST. ****
When teaching students who have significant learning and often physical challenges it can often be hard to relay the seriousness of this information with adding to a student’s anxiety and confusion. Here are some activities I found to be really helpful.
Consider using a vocabulary board when teaching about fire safety.
I found utilizing a vocabulary board as a constant in my lesson was really helpful in keeping everyone on the same page and engaged. I used this board when doing activities or even when watching YouTube videos. It encouraged interaction and sharing even for students who were more verbal.
Of course, I really like to use books, and of course books on my student’s level could be really difficult to find. However, I did find for this particular topic there were quite a few good books in the library that were fairly engaging and my students seemed to enjoy it. Of course, I did end up writing some of my own as well.
Small group stories
For this particular unit, I knew it would be difficult to practice a fire drill in different locations around the school. But, the reality is you never know where you and your students will be when the fire alarm goes off. So, as a group activity each day, we would sequence the steps, matching pictures to words on what you would do if there was a fire alarm while working in class, during the time in the library (or other enhancement class), and while eating lunch in the cafeteria. Although it is not a substitute for actually practicing the real thing in different locations, it was a good substitute.
I LOVE doing sorting activities with my students. They are fairly easy to set up and easy to differentiate with color-coding. (Read my post on Color Coding for Differentiation to learn more about that.) For this particular unit, I did a safe and non-safe sorting activity. It served as double duty because I did a color version in class and sent the black and white version home to do with their parents. Gotta love that purposeful repetition.
I find it is always a great review tool to have students sequence a process. It is easy to differentiate by quickly writing numbers on the pictures, and it is also a great way for students to practice first, next, and last. We did two different sequencing activities for fire safety month. One was a simple stop, drop, and roll sequence.
Students would hold the cards and put them in the correct order. Of course, we had to model the sequence as well. Super fun. In the free lesson plan below, I have several good Stop, Drop, and Roll videos on YouTube for reference (including one for older students).
The other sequencing activity I did related to the steps we would have to follow when there was a fire drill. You can download this one for free by clicking the button at the bottom of this post.
You know I LOVE a good social story. Reviewing proper behavior during a fire drill was a great one to read. We also practiced a mock fire drill every day. That may seem really disruptive to your daily routine, but it is really worth it if there ever was an emergency. There are so many sensory issues wrapped up with the fire alarm. It is loud, it can be crowded in the hallway, and it is a totally unexpected part of the daily routine. For this unit, I used 2 social stories. I had one I created using photos that we would read at the beginning of the lesson. I also made one that just had black and white symbols from Boardmaker they could color and take home. If you would like a free copy of the black and white booklet, Fire Drills, click the button at the bottom of this post.
Have you ever used a power card? They are a really great tool when you are working on social skills in various locations. They are small, usually the size of an index card that summarizes the key points in the social story. I like to let students personalize their cards with stickers or other art media to make them look “cool.” They can be differentiated to meet the need of the student. Some use pictures, and some use words. The ones for the fire drill should be kept in a specific location once you are done teaching this unit so students can take the cards with them whenever there is a fire drill.
I hope you found some helpful tips and suggestions in this post. Sometimes I think I am just documenting what people already know, but maybe there was one part you want to add to your own lessons this year. Thanks for all you do for our special kids. The difference you make is immeasurable.
Check out my complete unit on Fire Safety:
PS Don’t forget to get your free activities by clicking the button below.