This is post is sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association and Sparky.org. Review and opinions are all mine.
It probably doesn't seem very sexy to discuss fire prevention.
Trust me when I say that no matter what kinds of things you're passionate about you can always find others. I didn't have to go looking for this one.
Back when my children were in elementary school they had a classmate who had a house fire. Every time, prior to this one, that I heard about someone's house burning down I would sort of shrug it off like, "Awww, that's too bad. Good thing we have insurance." It wasn't particularly compassionate of me until I stopped by where they were staying (right next door with friends) and listened to them talk about the actual things they lost. Family heirlooms. Photographs that couldn't be replicated because this was prior to digital pics. Handwritten letters from ancestors long gone. It was heartbreaking and, in that moment, I had to face my own apathy about it. It was pretty shameful and I'm not proud of it.
She had two young children, a son and a daughter, and that was also around the same time when I stopped titheing to my church and directly gave her money. (Story for another time.) We went through our clothes and since my children were growing like weeds and I wasn't the most organized mom this required some work on my part to get it together so that we could donate.
As schools are considering what to do this week for Fire Prevention Week (an important part of teaching whether or not curriculum dictates it) I have a few things that might be helpful for teachers. My husband served on the volunteer fire department for years so he's taught me a thing or two about fire safety that I wouldn't normally know.
I was asked to review the NFPA’s Sparky resources which, I've learned, can be used by teachers during Fire Prevention Week coming up between October 9-15, 2016.
What follows are my review thoughts on the game:
The "make-believe" link on the game features a child in a wheelchair which is rather progressive of them. WELL DONE, DEVELOPERS. Also, there are diverse races represented as well. I'm not being insincere when I say this: Thank you for being inclusive on this. This makes possible a game where kids playing it are able to see themselves.
Sparky has a Firehouse app for those times when you're out with your kids and you want to keep them entertained while simultaneously teaching them how to be safe in case of a fire. YOU KNOW THIS HAPPENS ALL THE TIME SO MAY AS WELL USE IT WISELY. I like the app version and, after trying it out online first, was surprised at how well it translates.
Here it is available for play on the web for those times when teachers sign up for the computer lab and want to focus their student's attention on an education game. SparkySchoolhouse encourages adults to teach fire safety to save lives, something that can be a scary topic for children. However, they use appropriate language and upbeat music to soften the lessons. Educators can find more resources at the SparkySchoolhouse Digital Backpack as well. (This is chock full of lessons and more games.)
Of the options for game playing, you'll tap one of the boxes to play. I chose to play Hear That? It was like the game Concentration where you hear sounds and have to tap the buttons to play them again in order. I don't think that's the object of the game, though. The instructions also tell you that if you hear the smoke alarm you are to tap the door immediately without finishing the game.
My favorite resource is the Sparky lessons.
There are downloadable PDFs and all of them meet CCSS standards for different grade levels. As an educator, my pick for these focuses on grades 1 & 2 for children. There are, of course, different grade-level appropriate lessons. Here's a sample of one for ages 6-10 (up to 5th grade):
Sparky the Fire Dog® and his friends set out to solve a mystery in The Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms, a free app that teaches kids fire-safety skills with a compelling new story, standards-aligned materials and loads of fun tappable animations.
What I liked about that is that kids get, by nature, engrossed in what they're doing and need to be able to hear sounds that signal a danger may be present. I got through about 5 levels before the smoke alarm sound went off and tapped the door immediately to get outside.
The game rewarded me by congratulating me for going outside and it showed a meeting place, something else I taught my young children when they were small. "If we ever have a fire and we're apart, we'll meet up by the basketball hoop in front of the house. If you come out the back doors then make your way to the hoop so we can know you're safe."
My overall opinion is that this game is really great for very young children and I stand by my earlier claim that kids will be playing games on mobile devices anyway so they might as well learn safety tips while doing it.
Fire Prevention Week is a necessary part of what schools are doing to make sure their students are safe. Many school districts are required, by law, to run fire drills several times a year so that students can be safe in school buildings. Why not extend this learning at home with your young children in a fun way, too?