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WEEEEeeeeOOOOOOO! WEEEEeeeeeooOOOOO! Police and Firefighters and EMTs, oh my! This emergency workers unit study was one my kids begged for for a very long time, and we finally did it.
I actually struggled with pulling this one off. I read so many books trying to find a great read aloud that was age appropriate. The kids were getting impatient, and I finally just decided to go with what we had. Was this the best unit study ever? No. However, I’m glad I went for it because the kids enjoyed it and we learned a lot, both about emergency workers, but also about the things we really want and need out of our unit studies.
Originally this was going to be a three-part unit study covering Police, Firefighters, and EMTs. However, due to it being summer, some lengthy extended family festivities, and life, we ended up abandoning ship before the third section. We were all sad, honestly, but it was just time to move on. Maybe we can come back and catch some of of the EMT components in an upcoming unit study.
My oldest (10 years) was particularly sad about missing out on the EMT part. He was really looking forward to it. He did, however, really enjoy the detective kit we went through (more on that later).
My middle child (8 years) really wanted to have a fire training session at the fire station and that didn’t pan out. He DID however, really enjoy the games that went along with the unit.
Little (3 years) was really just along for the ride, but she really enjoyed joining us for the Cat Crimes game we played during morning basket every day.
Before I jump into the plans and resources, here’s a quick look at a random day in our homeschool during this unit study:
Now, onto all the resources. As I mentioned before, I learned a lot during this unit study, including how to best share our journey with you. As such, the set-up this time around isn’t optimal and you will see improvements going forward, but I’m going to do my best to share with you the resources and tools used in creating this unit study.
Do you prefer learning via audio or video? Scroll to the bottom of this post for my corresponding YouTube video.
Planning the Unit Study
Every unit study I plan begins with my planning template. I go into more detail about how I plan, as well as offering my planning template as a free download in this post.
This time we had a few different read alouds.
- Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts – I wasn’t excited going into this book series, but was pleasantly surprised. These books follow Fizz on his adventures through the police dog tryouts, academy, and even some cases. Along the way Fizz learns some things about himself and discovers friendship where he least expects.
- Fizz and the Dog Academy Rescue
- Fizz and the Show Dog Jewel Thief
- Fizz and the Handbang Dog Napper
- Dog Diaries: Sparky – I’m not sure what it was about this book, but I never really got into it. The kids, however, loved it. It’s a story about the life of a fire dog beginning as a pup and going through her training until she faces the biggest fire Chicago has ever seen. There are some twists and turns in this story about the Great Chicago fire of 1871. It’s ultimately a story that reminds us that there is more to people (or animals) than what we see at first glance.
- Ranger in Time: Escape from the Twin Towers – Unfortunately we didn’t actually make it to this book during this unit, but it looks really good and I still plan to read it with the kids sometime.
While we did have a chapter each from our history book as well as our science text, I had to get a little creative with our non-fiction spines for this unit study. I did happen to find a great series that my kids loved and that worked really well. They’re happy we have these books in our home library now.
Emergency Response Books
- Firefighters: Battling Smoke and Flames
- Hazmat: Disposing Toxic Chemicals
- Bomb Disposal: Diffusing Danger
- FEMA: Prepare, Respond, and Recover
- EMT: Crisis Care for Injury and Illness
- Police: Protect and Serve
- SWAT: Special Weapons and Tactics
- Search and Rescue: Imminent Danger
While we looked at the history of each of the organizations in the books listed above, we also took some extra time to learn about the Chicago Fire of 1871. We had also planned to cover the Terrorist attack of 9/11, but we ran out of time.
America’s Story Volume 2 – Chapter 16: Chicago is on Fire!
Of course with all this talk about Police and Fire, both forensics as well as the science behind fire were high on our radar. We’ll look more at forensics with our unit projects, but we did turn to our science text book to learn more about heat and fire.
God’s Design Physical World– Heat & Energy | Unit 2: Thermal Energy
We didn’t have a unit specific trivia game this time around, but we did have a fun logic game as well as couple others just for fun.
- Cat Crimes – Every day we followed the clues to learn which cat committed one of six crimes. As with logic games, the cases got harder and harder, but working together gave us an edge and we were able to successfully solve most of the puzzles. There’s also a dog version of this game if you prefer K-9s.
- Guess Who – This may be a bit of a stretch, but I thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce my kids to this classic game. Part of this unit study has been learning to pay attention to clues and details. This is a great opportunity to practice those skills.
- Paw Patrol Save the Forest – This game was really an attempt to include the three-year-old in the emergency worker fun, and it worked! She and her brother had a lot of fun putting out the fires for an ultimate rescue.
I found a huge list of movies and video resources. However, most of them ended up not really being age appropriate or good fits for our family. However, I was able to create a couple playlists for the kids on YouTube, and I’ll share those here.
For this unit, we had one main project kit, but did a few other, smaller projects along the way.
- Master Detective Toolkit by Thames and Komos – I was very hesitant to purchase this kit. It is a bit pricy, and kits haven’t always been a go in our home, however, this kit really made our unit study and I’m SO glad I got it. Literally everything we needed was in the kit, and the kids had a blast with fingerprints, crime scenes, and all sorts of other goodies. My big takeaway from this was that kits are much better done together, rather than just handing them off to my kids.
- Fire Station Visit – We may have done this more than once. Seriously, if you can visit your local police or fire station, I highly recommend it!
- Firefighter Alliteration – We were learning about alliteration, so each of the kids made up their own Firefighter (or police officer) alliteration. Then I had them illustrate them.
- Fire Escape Plan – We took a day to learn all about fire safety. We practiced stop, drop, and roll, tested smoke detectors, and made our fire escape plans.
- Police Academy Training – We didn’t actually get to this, but I fully intended to do some police academy type physical training. I still think it would have been fun, so I left it on the list.
Writing, Grammar, and Vocabulary
- Grammar Galaxy – I used the lessons in grammar galaxy as a guide, and whenever possible, pulled passages from our read aloud to help us see the grammar concept in action.
- Worksheets.com – This is my go to for creating copywork passages. My kids are still at a place where bigger lines and tracing letters first is helpful for them. I have one who’s working on cursive, and the other working on print. I can easily create handwriting pages for their copywork on this website. Oh, and it’s FREE!
- Word of the Week – As usual, I pulled some fun words from our read alouds and the kids (generally) enjoyed exploring their picks. I think ornery and buckboard were the favorites from this unit. You can get the worksheets we use for FREE right here on Ticket to Learning.
We read so many great books for this unit study. I have another blog post that lists all of the books we looked at, but here are our favorites:
- Officer Buckle and Gloria – No one listens to Officer Buckle’s safety talks until he brings his dog, Gloria, along. Soon Officer Buckle starts to think it’s only Gloria the children like and not him, so he gives up his talks. In the end, Officer Buckle realizes it’s teamwork that really matters.
- Fireboat – Fireboat is the story of a retired fire boat that was slated to be sold as scrap. A group of people who wanted to preserve it worked together to rescue and restore the boat. It was mostly used for fun until the 9/11 terrorist attaches when the John J. Harvey was needed for one last mission.
- You Wouldn’t Want to Live Without Fire – I’m sure your familiar with the “You Wouldn’t Want to . . .” series. I’m honestly not usually a fan due to the pessimistic tone of the book, but this one was actually really good. It had some fun trivia sprinkled throughout and kept the attention of everyone. Can YOU think of all the things we wouldn’t have or wouldn’t be able to do without fire?
- No Dragons for Tea – Dragon didn’t mean to sneeze during tea time, but when disaster followed, Dragon didn’t know how to respond. This is a cute way to explore fire safety with the younger set.
- The Eye That Never Sleeps: How Detective Pinkerton Saved President Lincoln – Did you know that there were many people who wanted President Lincoln dead? This is the story of Detective Pinkerton and how he foiled those plans, keeping President Lincoln safe.
- Fire! by Joy Massoff – Had I known about it sooner I, hands down, would have used it as the spine of the firefighter portion of our unit study. It includes everything you could imagine about firefighting with loads of amazing illustrations. It reminds me a bit of DK books.
- Behind the Badge: Crimefighters Through History – This was another surprise favorite. Filled with great illustrations and stories of real crimefighters in history, this is a fun way to see how law enforcement has evolved over time. Some stories may be upsetting for young or sensitive readers.
I would say I certainly jumped into this unit study less prepared than I would have liked, but I’m so glad I dove in anyway. I learned a lot about what works for our family and how to make our units stronger. I also learned a lot about how to better share what we’re doing and learning with you. I would love to hear your feedback in the comments below as this is still a work in progress.