October was always my favorite month when teaching PreK: a trip to the pumpkin patch, a walk in the neighborhood to collect leaves and other signs of fall, and of course, a visit from the local fire station to show off the fire truck. Though the kids were having fun checking out the truck and cool gear the firefighters were wearing, the information they learned about fire safety was one of the most important lessons of the entire year. Who knows how many lives have been saved through awareness programs with young children?

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Now there’s a fun and engaging way to teach your PreK-3 students about fire safety without a field trip or special guest speaker–just download the new app from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA.) It’s called Sparky and the Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms, and it’s available for free download in iTunes and Google Play.

The focus of the app is on smoke detectors and responding appropriately to smoke alarms. According to the NFPA website, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

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The app includes an interactive story which is read aloud to students, highlighting each word as it’s read. During the story, students look for fire safety tips and identify them by clicking on the screen.

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Additionally, the app includes the “What’s That Sound?” music video to teach kids how to respond to smoke alarms. The app also includes a fun game students could play after your lesson: they must move Sparky around the screen to collect batteries for the smoke alarm, instilling the importance of replacing smoke alarm batteries annually and the smoke alarm itself every 10 years.

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I also highly recommend the Sparky School House website for all kinds of other free resources for teaching kids in grades PreK-3 about fire protection. You can access:

  • The Sparky’s Birthday Surprise app, in which students learn how to stay safe in a fire. Click the “Apps” tab at the top of the page for related lesson plans for phonics, math, and science.
  • A free eBook called Rescue Dogs, Firefighting Heroes, and Science Facts, great for reading comprehension practice across several genres.
  • Music videos with catchy songsthat teach skills like the four key steps to follow when you hear a smoke alarm (also available on SchoolTube in case your district blocks YouTube). Click the Music tab at the top of the page for easy-to-use lesson plans that correspond with the videos.

How have you taught students about fire safety and fire prevention? Please share your favorite teaching ideas and resources in the comments.

Disclosure: The National Fire Prevention Association is a sponsor of The Cornerstone and has compensated me for the time I spent reviewing the app and sharing it with readers. All opinions are my own, and I only share resources that I would use myself in the classroom.

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