Why I Created This Kit:
Recently, I met my Fire Chief and some firefighters at a community event where we honored and fed our local emergency safety teams. They showed us all of their equipment and we got to meet a fire dog! At community events, we learn that firefighters and other safety workers are our friends and they want to help us whenever there is trouble.
Forbes reported in 2009 that 15% of the children they had surveyed wanted to be firefighters when they grew up. 11% of the same group of children said they wanted to be police officers.
It’s not unusual for young children to hope they can be a community helper when they grow up. I like to see children finding ways to help their community today, so they can say, “I am a community helper,” instead of, “Someday, I want to be a community helper.” Community helpers, like firefighters and police officers, are men and women who keep our neighborhoods safe. One evening, when I lived at a museum, the fire alarms rang. Fire and smoke alarms make loud noises to get our attention. I made sure to feel the doorknob before I opened the door. Within about 2 minutes of the alarm sounding, firemen were at the museum to make sure everything was okay. They asked me to wait outside while they took their equipment into the museum to check all 54 rooms!
F Is for Fire Fighting by Dori Butler (4+)
A popular career choice for most five year olds, firefighting conjures images of pump trucks, sirens, and ladders. This informative and fun ABC journey gives a bit of firefighting history with "B is for bucket brigade" and moves into the 21st century with "T is for thermal imaging camera." The colorful illustrations sport a spotted Dalmatian hidden on every page. (Amazon)
Fire Truck by Peter Sis (Ages 2-4)
Matt loves fire trucks so much that one day he wakes up and he is a fire truck. His big red fire truck has one driver, two ladders, three hoses and lots of other fire fighting equipment. What fun zooming around extinguishing fires and rescuing his stuffed animals. But wait, what is that smell in the air? Matt heads for the kitchen, and when he sees the pancakes on the table, the little boy reappears to enjoy his delicious breakfast. Executed primarily in black and red, this tale will appeal to kids who have lots of imagination. The counting lesson from one to ten is incidental to the fantasy adventure, but it and the fold out page of the boy/fire engine set this book apart from others. (Children’s Literature)
Firehouse by Mark Teague (Ages 3-5)
Join Edward and his cousin Judy as they spend a hilarious day learning how to be firefighters. From a fire drill that leads to a slippery slide down a fire pole, to a hysterical battle with an out-of-control fire hose, Edward is in for an action-packed adventure. And when faced with a real emergency, it's Edward who saves the day! (Amazon)
My Mom Is A Firefighter by Lois G. Grambling (Ages 4-6)
Every little boy has a hero. Billy's happens to be his mom.
Billy has two families—his mom and dad, and his firehouse "uncles," who work with his mom. Having a firehouse family is lots of fun. But Billy also knows that firefighters have an important job to do, protecting people and putting out fires. To get the job done right, they all have to work as a team—even Billy can lend a hand! (Amazon)
Tiny Firefighters (Ages 2-5)
- Format: iOS (iOS 5.1 or later for $2.99) and Android (Android 4.0 and up for $3.46)
- Publisher: wonderkind GmbH
- Book: Heroic opportunities abound in this tiny, one-page world of fire and rescue. The app shines with interactive adventures. A cow gets stuck in the pond; a cat requires rescue from a tree; a car and a house both catch fire; a charcoal grill flames up too high....Little fingers tap to initiate each rescue, saving people and property and animals along the way. Clever sound effects accompany the adventure, bringing the animation to life. Especially entertaining are the mischievous animals: squirrels fighting over an acorn, a red-nosed mole digging holes, a pesky crow, a quacking, diving duck. [Kirkus Reviews]
Sparky’s Birthday Surprise (Ages 3-6)
- Formats: Free on iOS (iOS 4.3 or later) and Android (Android 2.2 and up)
- Publisher: Cupcake Digital, Inc.
- Book: It’s Sparky the Fire Dog’s birthday, and his doggie friends are throwing a surprise party. In this fun and original tap-and-play storybook app, kids will learn important fire safety skills while joining the excitement of preparing for a surprise birthday party. The story includes bright graphics, surprising animations, interactive learning games, and a hilarious one-of-a-kind sing-along music video. [Cupcake Digital]
Fireman Sam: Junior Cadet (Ages 4-6)
- Format: iOS (iOS 4.3 & up for $2.99) and Android (Android 2.3 & up for $2.99)
- Publisher: P2 Games Limited
- Game: Young fans can learn with Fireman Sam and the rest of the Pontypandy Fire Crew as they take on the role of a fire cadet in training. They can earn an ‘Honorary Junior Fire Fighter’ certificate before putting their skills to the test and helping out Fireman Sam in some action-packed emergencies. (Google Play)
- I like the train-like-a-fireman aspect of this game that kids enamored with fire-fighting will enjoy. You can load your fire truck and maneuver your engine through mazes which strengthen hand-eye coordination. You can also practice using a fire hose to earn a junior cadet certificate.
Did you know?
Fire Trucks can carry more than 500 gallons of water. Once firefighters connect hoses to fire hydrants, water is constantly filling up the truck to be used by the hoses.
Captain Arnold, on the Mister Roger’s Neighborhood episode “A Visit to the Fire Station,” reminds us:
- Never play with matches
- If there is a fire, never hide under a bed or in a closet
- If there is a fire, go outside and stay outside
Fire dogs originally had the important job of running beside the horses that pulled the pump to the fire. Their job was to protect people and animals from the running horses. During the fire, the dogs guarded the horses. Today, fire house dogs are watch dogs. (Source: http://ccfd6.org/firehousedog.html)
Help your child identify community helpers like firefighters by asking him/her who helps us. As you drive or walk through your neighborhood, look for community helpers you can point out. Ask your child how each community helper takes care of our neighborhood.
Practice fire safety as a family so your child is comfortable knowing what to do in an emergency. Help your child practice reciting his/her full name, parent’s name, address, and phone number for emergencies. Plan and practice exit routes from each room in your home including holding a wet cloth over your mouth and nose as you crawl to an exit and checking doors before opening them. Practice meeting in a safe place once everyone is outside. Practice Stop-Drop-and-Roll procedure for putting out any fire on clothes. Teach your child how to call 911 or ask a neighbor to call 911 (or your local emergency number) and what information to give. Young children are often scared by the idea of fires, the sound of the sirens, or the thought that their own home may someday have a fire. Children take cues from the adults around them, so calmly discuss emergencies with your child and stress the truth that fires are accidents.
1) Five Little Firefighters Painting & Fingerplay
Time Required: 30 minutes
Cost: Minimal, if using materials you have on-hand
You Will Need:
- Finger paints and markers (red, black, blue)
- Paper to paint on
- Paper for creating hats
- A glue stick or regular school glue
- Cut out five red hats. For each hat, cut a triangle and a rectangle for the brim. If your child is working on his / her cutting and scissor skills, this is a place he / she can help.
- Using red finger paint, help your child make a hand print on the paper. While this dries, you could both enjoy some non-structured finger painting.
- After the paint is dry, use a marker to draw faces on each finger print. Now your firefighters have heads!
- Add a hat to each head.
- Add a hose with markers. The hose would work best if you drew it from the pinky “firefighter” to the thumb “firefighter.” This way, the thumb “firefighter” can aim the hose at the fire.
- Add some water coming out of the hose.
- Read or recite “Five Little Firefighters.” You can also write this rhyme on the firefighter painting.
Five Little firefighters sleeping in their bed (Hold up all five fingers)
The first one said, “Put your helmet on your head!” (Point to thumb)
The second one said, “Down the pole we’ll slide.” (Point to index finger)
The third one said, “Get ready to ride!” (Point to middle finger)
The fourth one said, “Put your mask on your nose.” (Point to ring finger)
The fifth one said, “I’ll grab the hose!” (Point to pinkie)
Then “Woooooo” went the siren (Hold hands around mouth, like a megaphone)
and out went the fire (Clap)
And the five little firemen could finally retire! (Hold hands together against ear, like you’re sleeping)
This is a common activity I’ve used many times in community programs; Finger play adapted from: http://www.kidssoup.com/Fire-safety/firefighter.html
2) Firefighter Sensory Bin
Sensory bins and activity tables can help your child develop fine motor skills as he / she manipulates small items. Sensory bins also allow your child to explore favorite topics, like firefighting, and express his / her thoughts and opinions through sight, touch, and open-ended play.
Cost: minimal, if you use what you have on hand or pick up items at a discount store
You Will Need:
- A dish tub or large plastic container to keep everything in one place
- Un-popped Popcorn, noodles, raw beans / peas, sand, or shredded recycled paper for filler
- 1 package of plastic firefighters
- Children's Firefighter’s helmet (see link)
- Play fire engines and cars
- Play buildings
- Red, orange, and yellow glitter craft pom-poms, flat glass gems, or marbles
- Buckets, measuring cups or spoons, funnels, or small shovels
- Fill container about ½ way with filler
- Arrange buildings, fire engines, cars, and firefighters in the bin
- Arrange pom-poms or marbles to represent the fire the firefighters will be fighting
- Invite your child to come explore their bin and fight some fires
3) Family Experiences
Firefighter Thank You: Schedule a time with your local fire house to take cookies or a healthy fruit or veggie snack to the fire crew in your neighborhood. If your local fire station isn’t available for visits, you can ask them what community events they will be at this year so you and your child can meet them there.
Firefighter Training: Firefighters are very active, to stay in shape. Even if your family does not normally exercise together, plan a day or two with some firefighter training. A few days of exercise helps the entire family start a new healthy habit. Start with some stretches to warm up. Pull out a jump rope and show younger children how you jump rope. Together, you can do a few push-ups and sit-ups, run in place, and walk up and down a flight of stairs. Three year olds can walk a straight line and keep their balance, hop, run on tip toes, and use alternate feet to go up a flight of stairs. Four year olds can jump over objects that are less than 6 inches high, skip, and go down a flight of stairs using alternate feet. Five year olds can skip using alternate feet. (Source: http://www.lancastergeneralhealth.org)
Firefighter For a Day: Children express themselves through play and understand through experience. If your child loves fire trucks and firefighters, he / she will enjoy being a firefighter for a day. Create your own fire-fighting experience in the back yard, using things you have around the house and garage.
Cost: Minimal, if using materials around the house
Things You’ll Need:
- Orange, red, or yellow paper, construction paper, or tissue paper
- Paper plates
- Sidewalk Chalk
- Your slide (similar to a Little Tykes style slide)
- Your garden hose or buckets
What to do:
- Use the paper to make a fire helmet and flames. Directions for a fire helmet made from paper plates can be found on the Crayola website.
- Draw fire ladders on the sidewalk or driveway with the sidewalk chalk and place your paper flames near the ladders
- Place your slide in the part of the yard designated as the fire station & use the slide for the fire pole
- Put in your call to the fire station and let your little firefighter slide down the fire pole and grab a helmet and hose or buckets of water to carry up the fire ladders and “put out” the fires.
- Follow-up conversation: Talk with your child about how firefighters do their job, putting out fires and helping people, to make our neighborhood safe.
Check out this alternative activity from Playdough to Plato if the one above seems too complicated.
Fire Trucks (3 minutes) from PBS-Mister Rogers Neighborhood (Episode #1744)
- Directions: Select the Tab for "Field Trips". This field trip is called “A Visit to the Fire Station”
- $ 1.99 on Amazon
- I like the visit to the fire station and Captain Arnold’s explanations of his safety equipment and parts of the fire truck. Mister Rogers gets to try on a breathing mask and breathe through Captain Arnold’s oxygen cylinder. Captain Arnold reminds us of fire safety, too.
I like these helpful rhymes provided by the government of New South Wales. Each finger play helps young children remember emergency safety in a gentle, fun, non-frightening way.
I am a smoke detector beep, beep, beep
(Squat down and point to self)
I will sniff for smoke while you are asleep
(Wrinkle nose and sniff)
Push my little button and then you will hear
(Touch nose with finger)
A sound that says I'm working all through the year
Calling the Fire Brigade
When I report an emergency
(Pretend to hold a telephone receiver)
Here's what the firefighter wants from me
(Point finger to self)
My name, address, phone number makes three
(Hold up one, two and three fingers)
And don't hang up 'til they're done with me
(Point finger and nod head back and forth)
We all have words we understand but do not use in everyday conversation. This holds true for young children, too, who are developing their own vocabulary. Your young child can learn new words at an astonishing rate. You can help him/her by using the correct names for firefighters and their equipment whenever you are talking about this topic. Encourage him / her to use the correct names when you see firefighters. When your child forgets or mispronounces a word, there’s no need to say, “No!” to him / her. Instead, simply supply the correct word or pronunciation. Your child will quickly pick up new words and incorporate them into his / her working vocabulary.
As you read, make connections between what you are reading and your child’s own life and experiences. When you are reading a book about fire trucks and their sirens, set the book down and say, “This fire truck has a loud siren, it reminds me of the fire truck that drove down our street yesterday, it had a loud siren, too. Today on our walk, let’s look for more fire trucks.” Setting down the book, to talk about connections, signals to your child that what you will say next is your own thinking, not part of the book.
Additional Resources & Recommendations
Read Aloud Books
Firefighters by Paulette Bourgeois
- Description: In a clear and straightforward text young readers learn about the role of firefighters. An alarm is sounded and the firefighters respond without wasting a second. The equipment, fire-fighting techniques and responsibilities on and off the fire scene are described in the text and depicted in illustrations that add a bit of humor. The closing pages describe the duties of a variety of firefighters and contain a list of safety tips for kids. (Children’s Literature)
Molly, by Golly by Dianne Ochiltree
- Description: Introduces the first known female firefighter, Molly Williams, an African American cook for New York City's Fire Company 11, who one winter day in 1818 with many volunteers sick with influenza jumped into action to stop a house fire. (Novelist)
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel... and 3 More Stories about Trucks (Scholastic Video Collection)
- Includes the adorable story, “Dot the Fire Dog”
- You can purchase it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or check your local library for a copy.
Sesame Street: Elmo Visits the Firehouse
- You can purchase it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble