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Fire and Fire Prevention: A Thematic Unit Plan Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #: AELP-SFY0012
A Thematic Unit Plan

Submitted by: Melissa Himberger
Endorsed by: Dr. Karlyn Wood
SUNY/College at Old Westbury Date: October 16, 1997
Grade Level(s): 2, 3


  • Health/Safety

A thematic unit on fire and fire prevention is essential for students of all age levels. However, knowledge of this topic becomes particularly important for young children, who are vulnerable when a fire occurs due to their inexperience and lack of knowledge about the potential dangers of fire. Children in the second or third grades often use appliances, and they may be placed in situations where fires can easily occur. Teaching children about the dangers of fire and informing them about how to become active in preventing fires may actually prove life-saving should they ever be involved in a serious fire.


The purpose of this interdisciplinary unit is to educate students about fire, fire prevention, and to provide them with the essential skills they will need if a fire actually occurs.

Theme: Fire Prevention

Possible Titles:

Fire Safety

Keeping Safe in a Fire

Fire Prevention

— Method of involving students in selecting a title:

— After introducing the unit, ask students if they can think of a title for our new unit on fire prevention. Any ideas will be written on the board, and students will have a day to decide which of the titles they like best. A vote for the title will follow.

General Objectives:


– To inform students of the causes and types of fire.
– To help students learn more about fire prevention.
– To help students learn what to do in the event of a fire.
– To provide students with procedures to follow when they are involved in a serious fire.


– To raise students awareness and thus promote concern for fire prevention.

– To develop important skills needed to fight a fire.

Design of the Unit Plan:

Note: The design below indicates the disciplinary areas and brief statements of ideas that will become the lessons and activities of the unit. What appears here has been prepared from a graphic web that was constructed with interconnecting lines among the various ideas indicating ways the lessons and activities relate to the disciplinary areas and to one another.


– Have students draw a floor plan of their homes.
– Have students draw illustrations showing what to do in the event of a fire.

Language Arts:

– Hold a class discussion to elicit students experiences with fire and fire prevention.
– Read a story outlining safety tips to the students.
– Create a chart listing important fire safety tips.
– Conduct a lesson on what to do in the event of a fire.
– Have students construct a book of fire safety tips.
– Have students construct guidelines about what to do and what NOT to do in a fire.
– Have students write poems or stories about fire.


– Have students research and then prepare a graph showing the frequency of fires by cause.
– Develop mathematics problems regarding the cost of fire equipment and fire damage.

Movement Activities:

– Practice exiting the school building.
– Practice stop, drop, and roll.

– Create a song or jingle to help people remember fire safety tips.


– Conduct a demonstration to show that fire needs oxygen (air) in order to burn.
– Conduct a lesson on various types of fires and how to put them out.
– Have students sort a group of flammable and non-flammable objects.

Social Studies:

– Show a film on fire safety.
– Invite a guest speaker in to discuss and answer questions about fire and fire prevention.
– Take a trip to the local fire department.
– Conduct a lesson on the history of fire fighting.

Introductory Lesson Plan:

This initial lesson in the unit involves a class discussion with students to determine what they already know about fire and fire prevention. (Complete plans for other activities and lessons indicated in the Unit Plan Design–above–are not included here. However, general ideas for those plans are explained in somewhat greater detail below under Descriptions of Other Lessons and Activities)

Unit Theme: Fire Prevention

Title: What do you know about fire?

Grade Level: 2 or 3

General Objective:

– To elicit from students their present concepts regarding fire and fire safety.

Estimated Time: 45 minutes

Behavioral Objective:

After students participate in a discussion, they will collectively create a concept web on the topic of fire and fire prevention.


1. Gather students in the meeting area and have them sit comfortably in one large group.
2. Have students brainstorm Fire. Conduct an open forum where they can share experiences, feelings, and/or ask questions. Conduct this as a discussion and record students responses, forming a concept web on a piece of chart paper or the chalk board as students contribute their ideas. The following questions will be raised during the discussion:

 – What is fire? (Students will describe characteristics, such as hot, dangerous, bright, and scary.)
 – How do fires start? (Students may not have many ideas. Responses can include matches, gasoline, cigarettes, electrical appliances etc.)
 – Have you ever seen a big fire? (Some students may respond that they have seen fire on the television. Others may have had real life experiences.)
 – What are some things that happen when there is a fire? (Responses may include that the firemen come; there is usually some smoke and some flames; there are sirens; and people are trying to help.)
 – How are fires put out? (Responses may include: water, firemen, fire trucks, sand/dirt)
 – How do you think we can prevent fires? (Students may respond with ideas that have heard before, such as listen to your parents, listen to the firemen, smoke detectors, and do not play with matches.)
 – Ask students how many of them take the precautions mentioned above? Ask students if they are doing everything they can to prevent fires?
 – Do you know if your families do anything special to prevent fires in your homes? (Students may respond with similar answers.)
 – What kinds of tools, equipment, and/or machines do you think you have at home that might help prevent or put out a fire? (Students will suggest using water, fire extinguishers, blankets)
 – Have you learned any safety tips? (Students might suggest crawling on the floor, getting out of a building, and calling 911 or the fire department)

3. To bring the discussion to closure, refer to the web the students have constructed for a summary. Comment on responses to any of the questions during the discussion that are especially important and that will need to be discussed in further detail as the unit progresses. Allow time for the students to ask questions and to clarify any misconceptions.

There are no special materials needed for the discussion.

Description of Other Lessons and Activities:

The following descriptions expand upon the ideas listed in the design of the unit plan (above). These brief descriptions can be used to prepare more complete lesson and activity plans before they are taught.


– Have students draw floor plans of their homes. They should be encouraged to include the locations of all possible exits, smoke detectors, and a designated family meeting place outside of the home. The purpose of this activity is to enhance the students visual perception of their home space and provide a mapping experience as they construct a plan for a possible escape route at home in the event of a fire.

– Have students draw illustrations showing what to do in the event of a fire. The illustrations can be further developed as fire safety posters to be displayed on a bulletin board in the school hallway. This display will provide a review of the steps necessary for safe evacuation and inform other students about proper evacuation procedures.

Language Arts:

– Hold a class discussion to elicit students experiences with fire and fire prevention. The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the unit to the students and to determine what they already know or believe about fire prevention. (This introductory lesson is prepared in detail above.)

– Have students brainstorm and create a chart listing important fire safety tips. Charting the students’ ideas will allow for assessment of their existing knowledge and help to clarify any misconceptions they may have.

– Have students write poems and/or stories about fire and its devastation. Students will have an opportunity to share their writing. The purpose of this exercise is to provide students with an opportunity to express themselves and share their feelings about this serious topic.

– Read a story outlining safety tips to the students. Following this listening activity, create a chart listing all of the important fire safety tips. Students can add to prior lists. The purpose of this activity is to review material previously introduced as well as to prepare a complete list for display.

– Conduct a lesson on what to do in a fire. Have students construct a book containing safety tips as well as important instructions to remember if they are ever in a burning building. This activity will give students concrete procedures to follow. Creating their own book will serve as a reference and provide an authentic assessment students grasp of important fire safety concepts.

– Have students construct guidelines about what to do, and what NOT to do in a fire, and have the students share their guidelines. This activity will help reinforce important fire safety concepts. Listening to one another, students may be helped to clarify any misconceptions students may have.


– Have students chart or graph reasons for commonly reported fires (electrical, accidental, cooking, arson, etc.). This activity will require some student research, and it will provide practice in working with graphs.

– Prepare word problems having fire prevention and fire safety as the theme. For example, students will be required to solve mathematics problems regarding the cost of fires using the processes in mathematics they are currently studying. The problems will give students opportunities to apply newly acquired mathematics processes as they solve problems related to the unit theme.

Movement Activities:

– Conduct a lesson demonstrating and then requiring students to practice stop, drop, and roll. By practicing this procedure, students should become more comfortable with it and therefore be more inclined to use it correctly in the event of an actual fire.
– Conduct a lesson on the proper way to exit a burning building. Students will practice exiting the school building. Not only will this activity fulfill state requirements for fire drill practice, it will also provide students with the practice they need should a fire in the school building ever arise.

– Discuss Exit Drill In the Home (EDITH) and the importance of practicing how to exit the home. If possible, involve parents, and encourage families to practice at home and to plan for alternative exits, such as windows. This activity will involve parents and offer opportunities to practice life saving skills.


– Have students create a song or a jingle in order to remember safety tips. Some students will find the use of a song or music helpful to them and make use of their musical intelligence as they try to recall safety tips.


– Conduct a demonstration showing that fire needs oxygen to burn. This lesson will expand students understanding of how a fire burns and aid in the understanding of how fires are extinguished.

– Conduct a lesson on various types of fires and how to put them out. This lesson will help to develop basic knowledge about combustion and alternative procedures for extinguishing fires.

Social Studies:

– Conduct a lesson on the history of fire prevention. Locate literature on fire prevention methods and fire fighting equipment from the school media center, community library, and the Internet. Have students create a Venn diagram to illustrate the differences between methods and equipment used long ago ,and those still in use today. This activity will help students to note comparisons and give students an opportunity to engage in some simple historical research that will be appropriate for their developmental and academic skills levels.

– Take a field trip to the local fire department. Explore trucks and other equipment. In advance of the trip, students will develop questions to raise of firemen when they visit the department. This trip away from the classroom will permit students to view authentic fire fighting equipment. In addition, the students will be exposed to and have an opportunity to explore a community resource.

– Show a film or video on fire/fire safety. Choose a film or tape that graphically shows what a fire looks like and the physical devastation that can result. Videos may be available at the local library. The purpose of this viewing activity is to show students an actual fire and help to motivate them to be conscious of the dangers and need for preventive measures.

– At the conclusion of the unit, students can develop a demonstration or presentation which summarizes the main concepts they have gained about fire safety and prevention. Students may be able to share their presentations with other classes in the school. The purpose of this activity is to provide for a summary and closure for the unit.

Evaluation Techniques:

– Have each student maintain a unit portfolio. Involve the students in selecting materials for their portfolios, which can include items such as:

– Writing samples
– Drawings
– Charts and graphs
– Floor plans

– Administer an examination at the end of the unit.


General instructional materials, equipment, and background information for the teacher:

– Demonstration materials–candles with a glass covering to inhibit oxygen
– Models–examples floor plans, sample stories, poems, and math problems
– Floor mats for stop, drop, and roll
– Classroom computer with CD-ROM and connection to the Internet
– CD-ROM encyclopedias, such as the Encarta or Grolier Encyclopedia (latest versions)
– Research materials and literature for students on fire and fire prevention

Sample List of Literature for Students:

Broekel, R. (1981). Firefighters. Chicago: Children’s Press.
Bundt, N. (1981). The fire station book. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books.
Bushey, J. (1981). Building a fire truck. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books
Chlad,  D. (1982). When there is a fire-Go outside. Chicago: Children Press
Freedman, J. (1977). Fire house. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
Gibbons, G.  (1984). Fire! fire! New York: Crowell.
Hankin, R. (1985). I can be a firefighter. Chicago: Children¹s Press.
Hatmon, P. (1980). Yesterday¹s fire engines. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner.
Hutchings, A. & Hutchings, R. (1993). Firehouse dog. New York: Scholastic.
Klingel, C. (1986). Fire. Mankato, MN: Creative Education.
Kuklin, S.  (1993). Fighting fires. New York: Bradbury Press.
Maass, R. (1989). Fire fighters. New York: Scholastic.
Pellowski, M. What’s it like to be a firefighter? Mahwah, NJ: Troll.
Smith, B. (1981). A day in the life of a firefighter. Mahwah, NJ: Troll. Stephen, R.J. (1986). Fire engines.  London: F. Watts.
Tamarin, A. 1971). Firefighting in America. New York: Macmillan.
Wallington, N. (1992). Firefighters . Ada, OK: Garrett.
Wolf, B. (1983). Firehouse. New York: Morrow.
Wood, L. (1994). When disaster strikes-Fires. New York: Twenty-First  Century Books.
Kunhardt, E. (1989). I want to be a firefighter. New York: Grosset & Dunlap.
Shea, G., & Peck, M. (1992). Amazing rescues. New York: Random House.

Useful Internet Resources:
* Staying Alive
Staying Alive is a non-profit organization that promotes public safety education. Staying Alive has developed a successful age-appropriate curriculum program targeted at K-8 students to raise awareness about fire safety.

* American Red Cross

* USFA – United States Fire Administration Kids Page

* FEMA for Kids (Federal Emergency Management Agency)

* Teacher’s/Parent’s Guide to the FEMA Kids Page

* National Safe Kids Campaign

* Fire & Safety Prevention