Teaching Preschoolers About Earthquake Safety

In honor of the Great Utah ShakeOut, yesterday I had an earthquake drill with my preschool class. I wanted to make this experience fun yet serious, but at the same time not scare them.

Over the past few months I have taught them a song called “Five Little Mice” from “150 Toddler Tunes” by Kidzup. During this song they pretend they are mice and take turns running away from the cat by hinding under the preschool table. They love playing this game.

However, during an earthquake they would all need to get under the table at the same time. The thought came to me to have them pretend to be playing with something in the classroom before I said, “1, 2, 3 earthquake!”

So, I assigned each of them something to do such as, “Joey, pretend to read a book; Sally, play with puzzles; Mary, sit at the table; Gina, play with the ball” etc. (Fictitious names). They loved this because they are great pretenders.

Once we were ready, I told them to start pretending. Then I shook back and forth in my rocking chair and said, “1, 2, 3 earthquake!” They dropped whatever they were doing or holding, and scrambled under the table. They loved it! Each time we did a drill, they pretended to do something else in the classroom.

The first time we did it, I tried to get under the table with them, but could only get my shoulders under. So, I decided my protection location would be the doorway to the bathroom a few feet from the kids. We practiced over and over again. And I am very proud of my students!

We also talked about the importance of listening and obeying quickly. It’s always a challenge for teachers to get everyone on task quickly. They have to learn to freeze. However, we are working on it.

I also taught them how to evacuate in case of a fire. They practiced grabbing their coats and shoes (without putting them on), and getting out the door. I taught them how to open the door by themselves in case I am unable to do it because of an injury. Practicing at a young age is very important, and need not be scary.

I hope some of you are teaching your children how to be better prepared for earthquakes. This would be a great family home evening idea too!

Useful articles:
Earthquake Safety Drills for Students
FEMA for kids
USGS Earthquakes for Kids


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