“School’s Out, Now What?” Activity Guides, Wildfire Education, & Go Bag Activities for the Whole Family

By: Jessica Sabine Brothers

Topic: Evacuation outreach/planning Planning Preparedness

Type: Tools / Resources

“School’s out, now what?” seems to be a common question for many parents these days as summer is in full-swing and physical distancing practices continue across the country.  Families that were affected by school closures have pivoted right into summer activities, for better or worse.  Many of us are scrambling; youth activities have been cancelled or adjusted to align with current safety precautions and distancing guidelines have made neighborhood playdates difficult.  As a result, the 2020 summer season requires some extra ingenuity and creative daily planning! We have compiled a resource list of summer activity guides, wildfire education resources, and go-bag activities that may help make the transition to summer exploratory learning a little bit easier for everyone! We’ve  also included a few curricula on local and regional plant knowledge to help build upon a foundation of ecological stewardship and connection to the landscape.

This summer will be memorable for many of us, on many levels and across a broad spectrum. Getting outside and participating in a positive summer learning experience should be somewhere near the top of the list. Enjoy!  

Curriculums and Lesson Plans

WILDFIRE EDUCATION

North Carolina State Extension K-12 and Youth Wildland Fire Resources

FAC Net member, Jenn Fawcett, put together a list of 21 Wildland Fire resources for Kindergarten through 12th grade youth on the Southeast Prescribed Fire blog. The resources are listed in alphabetical order with the name of the program, a short description, and a link for more information. A few of the resources can be found throughout this blog, but we highly recommend checking out Jenn’s comprehensive list for even more resources, curriculum guides, and activity ideas!

Best for: Wildfire practitioners or parents looking for a comprehensive list of resources and options.

FireWorks Education Program

FireWorks provides students with presentations, handouts and more to study wildland fire. The curriculum can be selected by ecological region so parents and teachers can choose the region that is most applicable for them.  According to the program developers with the US Forest Service, “students using FireWorks ask questions, gather information, analyze and interpret it, and communicate their discoveries.”

Screen Capture of FireWorks Curriiculum

Lesson plans are available, with PowerPoints and handouts, for each unit at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

While the full curriculum includes a trunk of materials, the curriculum can be used alone and at home. Trunk contents are clearly identified on the program website so parents or educators can identify what they have available or on hand.  The FireWorks Educational Program is produced by the Fire Modeling Institute of the US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program.

Best for: Educators looking to supplement existing curriculum with fire science or parents seeking an outdoor education, science-based curriculum to use at home.

Oak Woodlands Fire-Science Curriculum

These science lessons are tailored for grades 9-12 and focus on region-specific fire ecology. These lessons are modeled after the Northern Rocky Mountains & Northern Cascade Curriculum offered by the FireWorks Education Program and provide an excellent example of how curriculum can be customized for local regions.  

Best for: Students learning about fire ecology in the Cross Timber ecoregion of Eastern Oklahoma, north central Texas, and southeastern Kansas.

Wildfire Matters Curriculum

Einar Jensen with South Metro Fire Rescue in Colorado has graciously shared his curriculum guides for fourth-grade students to work through and explore! The curriculum packet includes seven lesson plans, including a Jeopardy-style wildfire game. Each lesson includes materials needed, goals and lesson outline. Einar has also included a Home structure Wildfire Hazard Assessment that you can work through with your kids (or without kids!) to assess your home’s wildfire risk. This assessment offers a great activity for families or individuals to rate your defensible space, accessibility, and surroundings and assess the risk of nearby brush and debris.

Best for: Fourth-grade parents or wildfire practitioners working with fourth-graders or looking for an example of a customized, local curriculum.

Wildland Fire Coloring Sheets

Example screen grab of the coloring sheets.While not a curriculum per say, these interactive coloring pages definitely deserve a mention! The Smokey Generation put together 31 coloring sheets for kids to do as an interactive learning activity, with sheets translated into six languages. Each sheet includes a QR code that’ll lead kids to a page with the original photo and more information about wildland fire. The young artist also has the opportunity to share their finished artwork with The Smokey Generation via their website! 

Best for: Kids who like to learn through art, and use that art as a foundation for extended learning or older-age kids who just like to color (some of the sheets are intricate!).

Keep Oregon Green Ranger Program

The Keep Oregon Green Ranger Program was developed to teach children (ages 8-12) about fire prevention and the importance of Oregon’s forests. The KOG Ranger Program includes nine lesson plans, handouts, and suggested materials.  The suggested materials are generally readily available (e.g., colored pencils, plain paper, water).  These activities can be done either in an indoor setting or out in the forests, but the forest comes highly recommended!  Additionally, printable and online activities are also available which are terrific as stand-alone activities. If you mail the registration sheet to KOG they’ll make sure your kids get t-shirts and a certificate of completion for their new knowledge! 

Best for: Parents of kids ages 8-12 who want to emphasize fire prevention.

FIRE SAFETY RESOURCES (INCLUDING STRUCTURE FIRE EDUCATION)

Fire Safe Kids Interactive Website

This interactive website includes lots of fun resources and activities for kids, along with printable activity sheets and coloring pages. The website also includes games, safety tips and a science learning section for older kids.  

Best for: Parents and kids looking for printable activities like coloring sheets, word searches, mazes and online games – all with a fire safety emphasis. 

‘Let’s Have Fun With Fire Safety’ Activity Booklet

This activity book, published by the U.S. Fire Administration, gives children ages 5-9 valuable fire safety and prevention tips. Contains coloring pages and fun activities designed to cover fire safety topics like evacuation planning, kitchen fire safety, and what to do when you hear the smoke alam. Download the 16-page  PDF in English or Spanish

Fire Safety example activity in spanish

Best for: Parents of young children who want to talk about fire safety in the home or fire safety practitioners who would like resources for classroom visits or virtual fire station tours.

ECOLOGY AND NATIVE PLANT EDUCATION

Okanogan Nature Camp: Resources for Home Learning

Okanogan Conservation District (and Washington State Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network member) has compiled their own resource list of engaging, hands-on education and STEM-based activities linked to state standards. They’ve included soil, water, animal, and plant sections to explore. They also have a community/citizen science page for local folks to participate in scientific research. Wouldn’t it be cool to turn social distancing into data that can help conserve our local natural resources? 

Best for: Parents who want to take nature learning outside!

Native Plant & Ecoregion Curriculum

This ecoregion-focused curriculum created by the Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE) consists of 32 lessons and provides a foundation of plant lessons for getting to know your local ecoregion and helps students better connect with their environment. I helped produce this curriculum in my previous role teaching ecological education for IAE. Curriculum can be downloaded for free or purchased in a hard-copy format. 

The curriculum introduces students to the biodiversity of flora, and the connections between plants and their ecosystems. It is designed to serve as a general template for any ecoregion in the United States, with guidance provided to make the lessons place-based for your specific ecoregion. You can also find state-specific curriculum guides for both Oregon and New Mexico on the IAE website.  The lessons encourage students to study what is outside their door and in the surrounding region. Along with the knowledge gained through these lessons, students will gain the skills to be informed and active citizens in local natural area issues and decisions in their future. The curriculum is divided into seven sections, moving from easier to more complex lessons, giving students the option to jump into any of the seven sections depending on their level of knowledge or plant comprehension. 

Best for: Teachers who want to expand student knowledge through place-based education.

RESOURCES FOR LIFELONG LEARNERS

Oregon State University Fire Science Core Curriculum

While OSU’s Fire Curriculum is not a kids activity, this curriculum is a great resource for families with older students, young adults, or those interested in learning more about fire science at a higher level of learning. This curriculum is designed to teach the basics of fire to community members in order to reduce fire risk.   The curriculum contains five units (and an additional introduction).  The entire curriculum is 197 pages and can be downloaded for free.  Additionally, individual units, PowerPoint presentations, and mobile-friendly versions can be downloaded here.

Best for: Adult learners or young adults looking to take fire science learning to the next level.

Go-Bag Resources + Activities

Ready to shift gears and move into hands-on preparedness learning? Creating “Go-bags” is a great hands-on activity for all ages..and it’s never too late to put together Go Bags for the whole family!  If resources allow, consider making a Go-bag for a neighbor or a friend in need of one. We’ve compiled some great Go-bag and evacuation resources provided by FAC Net members. Some of the resources include both English and Spanish language resources as well as thinking about Go-bag preparedness for kids that include special comfort items and items for helping kids cope. We’ve also included Living With Fire’s Evacuation Checklist, which could make for a fun planning activity to work through as a family as you think about what you might need during an evacuation. 

Create a Go-Bag

The Tahoe Network of Fire-Adapted Communities has sent out some great how-to tips in their monthly e-newsletter. They’ve covered Go-bag essentials: Creating a Go-bag as well as creative ways to give the gift of a Go-bag to a neighbor or friend, with some fun ideas for personalizing your gifted Go-bag. And if you’re not already signed up for the monthly e-newsletter, you can sign up here. Think about making your Go-bag creation a scavenger hunt for even more fun family time!

Best for: Families seeking to take quick and easy actions to prepare for wildfire season.

FEMA Go-bag Resources

A general emergency go-bag checklist that can be printed out and posted where family members can access it or work together to create a go-bag. The checklist is also available in Spanish.  FEMA’s library of emergency checklists can also come in handy for practitioners looking to provide resources to their community.  

Best for: Practitioners who need ready-made materials to share with their community.

Wildfire Evacuation Checklist

 This single-page printable resource created by Living with Fire and adapted from University of Nevada, Reno Extension Wildfire Evacuation Checklist, offers a great checklist that covers evacuation essentials. 

Best for: Families who want a single-page comprehensive list of materials and preparedness actions for wildfire evacuation.

Family Emergency Planning Handbook

This extensive emergency planning handout, produced by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Management division, outlines a step-by-step guide to disaster planning. The 60-page guide covers effective communication and planning tools and extensive checklists for developing an emergency preparedness plan for families. This guide includes equipment and supplies checklists, Home Hazards Hunt checklist — a great whole family activity, printable emergency contact and communication plan cards, and preparedness and evacuation plans for a number of disaster situations. There is also a section on pet and livestock planning and preparedness for those with animals. This is a great resource with numerous printouts that can easily involve the whole family!

Best for: Families who want to take their wildfire preparedness to the next level in a family-friendly and accessible way.

Additional FAC Net Blog Resources

For all the book lovers, don’t forget to check out our previous summer reading blog posts for suggestions and recommendations from across the Network:

Wildland Fire Book List for Young Readers, August 2019 by Becca Samulski

Summer Reading: 10 Wildfire and Behavior Change Books to Choose From, July 2017 by Allison Jolley

#Fireadapted Summer Reading, July 2018, Allison Jolley

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One thought on ““School’s Out, Now What?” Activity Guides, Wildfire Education, & Go Bag Activities for the Whole Family”

  1. Annie Schmidt says:

    Here is one more great resource from a Washington State Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network member in Washington: https://cascadiacd.org/kids-in-the-forest_368.html ! With school out and virtual learning in full-swing, Cascadia Conservation District created a video series for 6th grade teachers talking about the learning objectives of their successful “Kids in the Forest” program. Check it out!

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