Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fire Safety Week

It's National Fire Safety Week, so today I took my kindergartener on a field trip. We were able to get permission to join the younger students at a local Christian school for their fire safety assembly. Firefighters from several area fire departments came with their equipment for the kids to explore after first putting on a short program indoors. My daughter was particularly excited to go, because her best friend attends kindergarten at this school.

First, one of the fire fighters explained some fire safety rules and then talked about the special clothing fire fighters wear while two guys put on their gear to demonstrate.

 Here he is describing the protective fabric lining in the coats the fire fighters wear, emphasizing that their clothing is not fire PROOF, only fire resistant.

 Now the guys are putting on their coats...

All set!
Next the features of the fire hat were explained, including how fire fighters recognize who each other are as well as which fire company they work with based on the color of the hat and the number on the front.
Explaining the air mask the fire fighters wear.
Putting on the air mask.
The children were urged to NOT run away and hide from a fire fighter. They were shown what a fire fighter in full gear looks like so they won't seem so scary. They also got to hear how a fire fighter, wearing full gear, sounds something like Darth Vader.
The air tanks they wear give them about 30 minutes of air. Lights start flashing and a siren goes off to let them know when they have only 3 minutes of air left.
It was also explained that a siren goes off on a fire fighter's gear if he doesn't move for at least 45 seconds. This way, if he is hurt or trapped, other fire fighters can quickly find him. They let one of the sirens go off and it was LOUD!
The fire fighters demonstrated how one should CRAWL not walk when there is a fire. Children were encouraged to crawl to a fire fighter if they needed to get to one, NOT to walk. Also, if for some reason they couldn't yell for help, to grab hold of his clothing or a tool he's holding as he goes by in order to catch his attention so he'll find them. They were told that in a fire, it is DARK. The smoke will be heavy and often BLACK so the fire fighter may not be able to see them, so they must yell or do something to get his attention.
The children got ready to play a game of "Stop, Drop, and Roll" as a reminder of what to do if their clothing catches on fire.
Here's my daughter having a go at it.
Now she's picking the next child to have a turn.

This woman from a local insurance agency was there to explain to the children how very important it was to NEVER go back inside their house when there is a fire to try to get something left behind.

Then it was time for the BEST part of the morning: exploring all the fire trucks parked outside.

Listening to the fire fighter explain about the fire truck.
Showing the children some of the rescue gear.
Sometimes fire fighters need a rescue boat!
The fun part is getting to climb into the fire truck!
They are BIG!
Showing the fire hoses.
Here this fire fighter is showing the children the "Jaws of Life" and other tools used to rescue people who are trapped in vehicles after an accident.
Here, the children are told how this truck can hold 1000 gallons of water and dump it into a portable "lake" (basically an inflatable pool) that other trucks can use as a water source when there isn't a fire hydrant available. These trucks can dump their water, then go get more and return to add more to the supply. This is important when they are fighting brush fires and also fires at homes in rural areas that might not have a nearby water source.
Showing off the axes they might need to use to break through a roof or a wall to get to where the fire is.
He called this "The world's biggest squirt gun". It can shoot water about a block away.
The kids got to try on a fire fighter's pants & boots.
Wearing a real fire hat!

Here's my little peanut standing in front of the HUGE fire truck wheel. She had a grand time today and learned so much about fire safety. We'll be continuing our fire safety emphasis at home the rest of the week, and of course talking about it other times as well. Later this week, there will be free fire truck rides at the mall, so we're planning to go to that as well. She can hardly wait!

If it's still fire safety week, check your area for activities for kids. Many places are offering free activities for children to learn about this important subject. And whether you are reading this while it's still fire safety week or it's past, it is never too late to discuss fire safety with your kids. It's important enough to repeat many times. And don't forget your older kids! They need to get reminders as well. Plus, they are often using things that younger kids don't that might require additional fire safety knowledge. Check out my Pinterest for a bunch of great ideas I've found to teach fire safety to both younger and older children.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reading Aloud With My Middle Schooler

A key element of Sonlight Curriculum is the inclusion of "Read-Alouds" as a foundational part of the program up through Core H (typically a middle-school level program). Even when students can read well on their own, books are included for the parent and the child to enjoy together. As described in an article on Sonlight's website, the function of Read-Alouds are:

  1. To introduce your children to great literature that is beyond their personal reading capacity.
  2. To develop within your children a life-long love of reading. (Even though they may not be able to read a good book on their own, when you read great literature to them, it creates a thirst to read. They begin to think, "I love books! One day I'm going to read books like this!")
  3. To expand your children's vocabulary.
  4. To build listening skills--including the ability to visualize the meaning of spoken words.
  5. To develop an "ear" for good oral reading.
  6. To develop oral reading skills. (Having heard quality oral reading done by you, your children will imitate you. And,
  7. To give you and your children a context for sharing mutually significant times together.

I love how the books Sonlight selects for Read-Alouds are so much more than great stories--how they spur us to deeper thought and discussion on topics that we might not otherwise think to bring up with our children. Sometimes the stories are just SO good that we've finished them way ahead of schedule. A legendary example is the time my oldest daughter and I stayed up past 2am to finish the book The Westing Game because it was just THAT good. We couldn't possibly wait to spread the book over several nights' readings. So we kept on reading, kept on saying "just one more chapter" until the only thing that made sense was to finish the book!

The last couple weeks, I've been reading the book, Out of Many Waters to my 12 year old. It's a powerful story, a historical fiction novel that recounts the true story of  Congregation Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in the US, founded in 1654. It focuses on a fictional character, Isobel, who was kidnapped from her Jewish parents in Portugal when she was very small, then taken to Brazil where she was forced to be practically a slave while being indoctrinated in Christianity. She and her older sister, Maria, escape and board separate ships bound for The Netherlands. A sequel to this book, One Foot Ashore, recounts the story of what happens to her sister. I've got this on order from Paperback Swap and we're going to add it in before moving on to our next scheduled Read-Aloud for the core. We've got to find out what happened to Maria!

Though a quick and easy read on the surface, the story of Isobel gives the opportunity for some discussion for us a followers of Christ, as to just exactly what nature evangelism should take when working with children, not to mention the whole idea of "forced conversion". My husband and I have worked in Children's Ministry a lot over the years, and so this is an issue we have certainly wrestled with. It's heartbreaking to see the fruit of tearing children from their families in the interest of "evangelism". I discussed these issues a little with my daughter, and talked about how important it is for us to put our primary focus not on pulling children away from their parents, but rather seeking to reach whole families with the Gospel message.

We finished the book today (a day early!), and one of the scenes in the final chapters described the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hoshana, or New Year. One of the customs described is the dipping of apples in honey. Reading this in the book reminded me of this fun folk song I discovered last year and played for my daughter today sung by The Fountainheads, a Jewish music and dance group. I'll close for this entry with the music video of  "Dip Your Apple".