/f/ is for fire: teaching phonic sounds

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We did this /f/ is for fire unit study last summer, before the tragedy, to help Ella combat some fears about house fires. We are bringing back some of the fire safety activities and thought I’d share the full unit with you!

This fire safety mini unit study is part of our sss is for sounds series which is all about isolating and teaching phonics sounds (phonemes) using aspects of the Montessori Method, Reggio, and Orton-Gillingham. We use a simple word that reinforces the phonic sound and have a day or two of fun activities all geared toward practicing that sound and engaging in some hands-on learning.

F is for fire safety: learning the f phonic sound, part of a learning letter sounds series of mini unit studies

I started off the day reading some great books about fire safety before passing around our lowercase “f” sandpaper letter and having the children practice making the sound while tracing. /f/ is a relatively easy sound for kids to make, but I still liked to describe the feeling as air blowing through their top teeth, like they were trying to blow out the fire on a candle!

I set up this quick shelf of fire safety activities:

  • a play fire house and 3D fire truck puzzle
  • little people popsicle sticks for the kids to paint and use for playing with the fire house
  • a smoke alarm, batteries, and electric candle
  • a (borrowed) fire folder math game
  • fire safety-themed crayon rubbing plates along with our homemade block crayons
  • a fire truck puzzle
  • (borrowed) fire safety matching cards
  • books about fire safety


The kids really love the Orton-Gillingham inspired craft activities whenever we do a sss is for sounds unit, so those were the first to get explored.



Fire Safety Crafts

In addition to the two crafts laid out on the shelves (crayon rubbings and “firefighter” popsicle stick puppets), we did “fire” Rorschach paintings and this quick and easy tissue paper fire craft.





I’ve only ever borrowed fire folder games, but some of the kids love them. I think they can be Montessori-inspired if the core principles of isolating difficulty, involving fine motor skills, and an orderly set-up are considered when making the game. I think it’s a great solution for “car schooling” or if you don’t have an entire room to dedicate to Montessori Materials!



I also took Mister R and Ella to our local firehouse, where they got to explore a fire truck and ask questions to real life firefighters! In retrospect, I may have called around to see which houses had female firefighters as our visit unfortunately reinforced Mister R’s idea that there are only firemen.



This was a borrowed fire safety-themed matching game which just had images of things associated with fire safety (firefighter hat, dalmation, fire truck, etc) but I think it would be more interesting to do something like a set of fire safety sequencing cards, or matching “concepts” of fire safety.

My favourite activity was dissecting and exploring the smoke alarm. We talked about how they worked and how batteries work. Ella has ear issues, or else we might have played a game of hiding the smoke alarm or testing how far we could be away from the unit before we couldn’t hear it anymore (to reinforce why most houses have more than one).

If you’d like some fire safety gross motor activities, check out our post on How to Talk to Kids About Fire Safety.

There wasn’t as much Montessori as I would have usually liked in this fire safety mini unit, but again, the focus is on learning phonics sounds and (this time) about reinforcing concepts of fire safety.

-f- is for fire safety mini-unit study, teaching the letter sound "f" and exploring fire safety with preschoolers

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the other posts in our ‘sss’ is for sounds series, or consider subscribing to our free weekly e-mail newsletter.

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  1. Wow what a great week! I love your fire “f” and the matching fireman pic of your son dressed up. Looks like you guys had so much fun!

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