Young children are especially vulnerable to injuries and death from fires. Teaching young children about fire safety, fire hazards and what to do in a fire can save lives. I have chosen
to plan a lesson on Fire Safety for children between the ages of 3 and 5. All children of different cultures and backgrounds can relate to such an important topic.
Choosing a play-based learning experience to teach the children about fire safety will lead to a higher concentration and interest in the fire safety topic. Being such an important lesson for all children to learn, it is vital to create a learning experience that is memorable and best suited to children of a young age. Play-based learning is a way for young children to make sense of their world at their level and to develop active learning.
Different theories and frameworks can be related to the fire safety lesson and the benefits on a child's development. Acknowledging the importance of the environmental setup and supply of materials is another important role of increasing interest in the fire safety topic for young children and would have maximum benefit on their learning outcome.
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The fire safety lesson encourages children to acknowledge different types of fires and what to do in fire emergencies. It teaches them the importance of safety and the daily hazards that face their homes and surrounds. Early childhood is a time of extreme and rapid development, physical growth, intellectual growth and education. It also is a time for emotional development, therefore the importance of Fire safety is paramount.
There are several theories that can be connected to the fire safety lesson. Vygotsky's concept, 'Zone of Proximal Development' can assist the educator to acknowledge individual differences in development and identify the development level of a particular child. The zone of proximal development refers to the use of mental skills and abilities that children can achieve under adult guidance. This shows the distance between the actual developmental level that children have already achieved, and the level of potential development. The teacher should act as a 'scaffold', providing the necessary support for a child to succeed and improve in their development. Through Vygotsky's theory, play especially in early childhood can have direct influence on a child's development. "Play sets up a zone of proximal development, where interaction with peers and adults is the basis for the construction of new knowledge and understanding." (Docket & Fleer, 1999, p.68) This theory can be seen when the children are constructing the smoke alarm and understanding the importance of fire safety. Being guided by the teacher with songs and actions to recognise what to do in case of a fire and helpful directions on how to build the smoke alarm are an example of scaffolding and the recognition of individual differences in development.
Theoretical stages of play as stated by Piaget and Smilansky which involves functional play and constructive play can be connected to sections of the fire safety lesson. Functional play involves repetition of activities. Functional play being incorporated in the fire safety lesson would involve, repeated fire songs and actions that are in the fire safety lesson as suggested by the Qld Fire and Rescue Service, Get Down Low and go, go go and Stop, drop and roll, reminding children what to do in different stages of a fire. Children constructing the smoke alarm and decorating it can be related to Constructive play, using materials to create something that exists after play has ended. Construction such as Building blocks to make standing objects, creating objects out of play doh that exists after play, artwork like paper collage and creating the smoke alarm out of paper plates and strings all relate to constructive play. (Docket & Fleer, 1999)
In order to fully acknowledge diversity in children and teach a lesson that covers a variety of different children, Bronfenfrenners Ecological Model must be recognized. Urie Bronfenbrenner argues that in order to understand human development, one must consider the entire ecological system in which growth occurs. This system is composed of five socially organized subsystems that help support and guide human growth. The systems range from relationships between immediate environment to influences and patterns of culture and bodies of knowledge. (Bronfenbrenner's Ecological model Handout).
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Every child is unique therefore different surrounding environmental factors for each child needs to be considered when preparing classroom activities and observing each child's development process. Environment can direct a child's course of play. Bronfenbrenner's theory suggests that surrounds, social and environment can impact or stimulate a child's play. Early childhood educators draw upon the socio-cultural theories that emphasise the roll that families and cultural groups play in a child's learning process. A child's influences can be traditional practices, heritage knowledge and experiences, values and beliefs passed down by a child's family or community. Educators need to respect and acknowledge the diversity of their students and their families to gain a better understanding of each child's strengths and abilities and to be able to respond to any issues of the child. Acknowledging and respecting multiple cultural ways, allows better understanding of cultural differences. This can lead to more effective communication and interaction with children gaining a positive result on their overall learning and development in the classroom.
"Young children's play allows them to explore, identify, negotiate, take risks and create meaning. The intellectual and cognitive benefits of playing have been well documented. Children who engage in quality play experiences are more likely to have well-developed
memory skills, language development, and are able to regulate their behaviour, leading to enhanced school adjustment and academic learning." (Bodrova & Leong, 2005).
Curiosity, openness, resilience, concentration and creativity are a few areas of development in your children, created through play-based learning. Play is the main way children learn and develop ideas about the world. It helps them build the skills necessary for critical thinking and leadership. It's how they learn to solve problems and to feel good about their ability to learn. Play is not a break from learning, it is the way young children learn. Children learn more through play with well-trained teachers who know how to respond to, guide, and extend their play to increase learning-and how to assess their development by observing their play.
Learning environments should be designed to respond to the interests of each child, support learning and cater for different learning capabilities. Children respond better when faced with interesting and challenging learning environments and with materials that will enhance their learning, supplying the vital materal and envrionment, promotes increased abstract thinking and has a positive overall effect on a child's development. I have utilised this important aspect of lesson development and created a well structured learning environment that will give each child the time, space and materials that are required to not only educate them on fire safety but to encourage interest in such an important topic. Creating a fun environment achieves a higher response in understanding and greater interest in what they are learning.
Technology and Play.
Having the children use the triple zero website on the computers not only increases their knowledge of what to do in emergencies but also has proven stimulation in cognitive development in young children utilising computers. Fatouros, Downes and Blackwell (1994, p.57) noted improvements in mathematical understanding and receptive language development and also children's social-emotional development when computer based learning experiences were combined with carefully structured adult assistance. (Docket & Greer p 159 & 158).
Adult Role In Play
Providing the proper environment and materials for the fire safety lesson is an important part of the adult role. supplying the students with appropriate age and development based tools to learn all aspects of fire safety and a fun environment that will keep the students interested is vital in any lesson plan. Time mangement is another important factor in planning a lesson. Children need to have sufficient time allocated to perform the activities related to the lesson, so they can build on their knowledge in a fun relaxing manor and have the time to be able to complete the activies planned. When children are given the appropriate time to complete activities they will have a better chance of understanding and developing a better knowledge of the topic in the lesson plan and it also provides the teacher with appropriate time to observe and assess each child.
Cultures and bacgrounds.
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Planning a lesson requires consideration for the influences in a child's learning and development. Choosing the Fire Safety lesson allows for all children of different cultures, backgrounds and learning influences, to be involved. Fire is an important safety issue that needs to be addressed to all children from all backgrounds and cultures, as fire does not discriminate and affects everyone.
Fire safety is something that needs to be addressed to every child from every cultural background. Choosing fire safety as a lesson topic addresses all the children from diverse backgrounds and different developmental levels. It is of importance to acknowledge your multicultural group of students when planning lessons for the classroom. Without respecting the different cultural ways, children can feel neglected and unattached to the classroom group, which would affect their overall progress and development. Educators who are culturally competent respect multiple cultural ways of knowing, seeing and living, have the ability to understand and respect differences. (Learning Framework) Cultural understanding and respect shown by the teacher provides healthier learning envrioments for their students.
Children are receptive to a wide range of experiences. What is included or excluded from the curriculum affects how children learn, develop and understand the world. (framework)
The Fire Safety lesson provides a range of learning experiences. Children can engage in shared conversations and discussions about what to do in case of a fire. It productively includes all children in the activities. Developing the Fire Safety lesson has incorportated professional knowledge and skills and it is designed to educate children from different cultural backgrounds. Focusing on the children's abilities and interests, skills and knowledge to design the fire safety lesson, has encouraged interest and motivation in the children to learn such an important topic.
It is also important that children know how to respond if there is an emergency. The outcome from the fire safety lesson is for the students to have a better understanding of the different types of fires, what to do in case of a fire and gain knowledge and understanding of how to respond to a smoke alarm. Fire has the ability to affect everyone, therefore the importance to teach young children is paramount. The children learning about fire safety through a range of fun and interesting activities, including repetitive songs and actions, hands on construction building their smoke alarms, and use of computers to view the triple zero website combines a range of different developmental levels. stimulating their cognitive development, social development and overall academic development is important factors to remember when designing lesson plans in early childhood education.
Children use process such as exploration, collaboration and problem solving across all aspects of curriculum. Developing curiosity and creativity enables children to participate in and gain from learning. (framework)
Designing a play - based lesson enhances the teaching of curriculum content and important topics that face young children. In play, children make their own choices, they collaborate and express their own ideas creating a powerful means of learning. Using play as a form of educating is important in the development of a young child. Choosing to use play as a way to teach young children about fire safety gives the best possible outcome to keep children intrigued in the learning of such a vital topic that can impact harshly on society.
Play - based learning has the potential to foster critical skills, understandings and dispositions which are essential for children's formal academic achievements as well as their wellbeing. (the value of play, www.mcac.gov.au)