Summer Safety Activity: Firefighter Friends
Invite your local firefighters to visit your group.
- Grades: PreK–K
Children become familiar with firefighters and their equipment while developing observational and social skills.
- Pictures, photos, and books about firefighters (see book resources below)
- A camera
- Equipment that firefighters bring
- Plastic fire hats, boots, and other firefighter-related props (optional)
- Drawing paper, paint, and crayons
Call your local fire station and speak to the fire chief to arrange a day and time when firefighters can visit your group. Explain that you'd like the firefighters to talk about their jobs and bring equipment for children to investigate. (Request that they not wear masks or other gear that may frighten children.) Look for pictures and books about firefighters to keep in your room. Be sure to notify families about the visit, and encourage them to attend.
Step 1: The day before the visit, talk about firefighters. Ask children if they know what it means to fight a fire. Read one or two of the books you collected, and show photos of the fire station and the people who work there. Hang the photos at children's eye level. Ask them if they know how to stay safe if they see a fire. Offer fire-safety suggestions such as staying away from flames, not playing with matches, alerting an adult if they see a fire, and so on.
Step 2: On the morning of the visit, remind children that the firefighters will be coming. Let them know what to expect and how the visit will alter your usual routine. For example, you might say, "Instead of going outside to play today, we're going outside to see the fire truck that will come to visit."
Step 3: If the firefighters bring a vehicle, make sure there are enough adults so every child has a hand to hold. (If enough adults aren't available, visit the vehicle in small groups.) Remind children to listen to the firefighters as they show the equipment and tell children how it's used. Repeat any instructions or precautions the firefighters give, and encourage children to carefully touch the equipment and try on hats and boots.
Step 4: Back inside, point out the firefighter clothes and equipment that you placed in the dramatic-play area and invite children to explore them.
For younger children: Give them plenty of opportunities to dramatize the work of firefighters in the dramatic-play area before the visit. Provide as many firefighting props as possible.
For older children: Work with children to create cards thanking the firefighters for the recent visit.
Remember: All the activity, in addition to the presence of a stranger, may cause some children to become anxious. Respect their feelings and allow them to observe from a distance before you gently encourage them to participate. Some children may become overly excited and have trouble maintaining control during the rest of the day. The dramatic-play area is a good place for them to take on roles and work out their excitement.
Ask if your fire station can provide information about home fire safety that you can distribute to families.
Offer art materials and encourage children to paint, draw, and write what they thought about the firefighters' visit. Children might also want to add descriptions to their artwork, which you can print and display along with the paintings and drawings.