My five-year-old Drama Queen is fairly sensitive to the topic of fire safety and loves to talk through what to do if there is a fire in the house. From time to time she has asked about us making a map showing escape routes through the house, but unfortunately, it’s never been a good time right then, and I always forgot about it later.
So this morning during breakfast when she asked again, I said, “Yes!”
A little bit later in the morning, we sat in the living room with a piece of construction paper and a small basket of crayons. I didn’t have any actual plan in mind, but figured I’d start by drawing a crayon map of the house. A very, very basic map of the house, mind you, but a map nonetheless.
Once I had drawn the map, I paused to think about how to actually show escape routes. I wanted the kids to see different possibilities based on where they were and where the fire was. I decided I could show multiple options if I laminated the map. As I jumped up to do that, I quickly thought of a whole game we could play with it.
I left them on the couch while I ran to get dry erase markers, an eraser, and a red die.
To play the game, each person chose where he/she was in the house and made a smiley face or some kind of mark in that room on the map. We usually told the context of what we were doing as well, such as all three of us were in Drama Queen’s room having a tea party, or Drama Queen was doing dishes in the kitchen, I was setting the table in the dining room, and Mr. BANG was playing with trains in the playroom.
Next, someone got to roll the die. Wherever it landed was the location of the fire.
Now, sometimes they were very strategic with their “rolls.” Mr. BANG, in particular, liked to make sure the fire was in a room with one of us or even on Drama Queen’s hair. That was just fine, though, because it gave us additional situations to think through – and opportunities to get down on the floor to Stop, Drop, and Roll!
Once the fire was in place, we strategized how each person could escape the house safely. If the fire was in a room with a person, or blocking the doorway of a person, that person got the first turn to “escape.” We talked through the exit and route options, including feeling closed doors and banging on windows. We verbalized crawling under smoke when appropriate. With our markers, we drew the path we would take. They both know very well what our outside meeting place is (a pair of trees in the side yard), so they usually continued their escape lines all the way to that point.
When everyone was safely at the trees, both children would chant, “Again, again, again!” One person would get to erase the map, and we’d start all over again.
We played at least 15 rounds before it was time for lunch, and even now Drama Queen is sitting and playing by herself.
We certainly didn’t go through all the possible fire situations, but it definitely got them thinking through how to escape a fire safely!