Emergency drills (fire drills especially) can be terrifying for preschoolers and many children. It’s loud, sometimes crazy if it’s unannounced, interrupts their routine, and there can be students everywhere. They are stressful for everyone but totally necessary to ensure for safety.
This post contains affiliate links.
I created read aloud books (aka social stories) about the different emergency drills to help make drills not so scary. Each book has simple text and illustrations. It explains why we have drills, what each will sound like, what they will do and what will be happening around them. Here are a few pages from the Fire Drill book.
It explains in three simple steps what they will do during a fire drill (aka fire drill routine: stop, get in line and walk out the building).
During the first two days of school, small group time is all about fire drills. For most students, this is their first experience doing a fire drill. I read the Fire Drill read aloud book, model the fire drill routine and then the students practice the fire drill routine.
Yep, we practice having a fire drill!
The students pretend to play then I make a fire drill noise and they always join in and giggle. We stop, get in line and walk all the way outside to our assigned spot outside. Once outside we give lots of positive praise for practicing the drill!
If students know why we do it, what to do, and what will be happening around them during the drill, they will feel safe and it will be not so scary (hopefully). Just knowing what is going to happen will ease or lessen their anxiety. Before the other drills occur, we read and practice them too!
Teaching routines and procedures (emergency drills too) at the beginning of the year and throughout the year when needed is NOT wasted time.
I made a drill routine poster for each type of drill. Put the posters on a book ring so you can grab them quickly when a drill occurs.
The routine posters are super simple to make. Just print, laminate, cut and add Velcro. I keep it close so I can use it as a visual for students when we have fire drills.
Every year, I have one or a few students who are freaked out by fire drills. I make them their OWN book to take home. They can read it at home with their families too. I have also made the fire drill routine poster for students so they can practice the fire drill routine at home.
It’s easy to print them smaller to save ink. Click print, select “multiple”, and the size you want to print the books. I usually print the take home books 4 to a page.
Ear Muffs! Last year I had a friend who physically shook because she was so terrified of fire drills and the loud nose the alarms made. I gave her the fire drill book to read at home but that wasn’t enough. So we tried ear muffs,’ it was her mom’s amazing idea!
She kept her ear muffs in her backpack just for drills. She would immediately run and grab the earmuffs when a drill would go off (and if she didn’t, I would for her). Good news: by the end of the year she was not terrified, didn’t shake, but they were still not her favorite thing.
You can get Fire Drill Book & Routine Posters and Saftey Drills Books Books and Routine Posters (included earthquake, tornado, and intruder drills) in my store. The Intruder Drill Poster and Book are EDITABLE. So if you call it lockdown or your routine is different you can edit it accordingly! Just click the picture.
Want even more visual supports for your classroom to teach all those tricky social skills and build character within your students? I’ve got you covered! Go grab my Character Education Bundle. It will help your students and save you a ton of time.