Out of the Woods, By Rebecca Bond

A forest fire brings animals and people together in an unlikely place. This is a real story of an unforgettable event.


  • A bag of thin sticks, 3-8 inches long (use a fallen branch and break into many smaller sticks)
  • Small disposable drinking cups
  • A gallon of school glue
  • An index card for each child with their name written upon it. If you have access to a camera, you can add a picture of the child also.
  • 2 sets of Forest Animal Cards
  • 1 set of other animal cards
  • I set of jumping bean cards


  • Unforgettable Event- something you do not forget, even when you are old.
  • Hotel-a place where people can stay for a vacation or for a longer time.
  • Stoking a stove-to put the wood into the stove and make the fires in the stoves before there was electricity.
  • Boisterous-noisy and over the top, crazy
  • Dense-thick with lots and lots of trees

Before Reading the Story

Before reading the story, spend a few minutes talking to the children about fire safety. Explain that there are several rules one should always follow if there is a fire. 1. Don’t be scared, be smart. 2. Never hide, get outside and get outside quickly. 3. Sit and wait outside until your parent/an adult tells you it’s all safe. 4. If it’s smoky crawl on your knees. Have the children repeat the rules back to you as you say them. Tell the children that your story today is about a little boy who’s home got caught in a forest fire. Encourage the children to think about the fire safety rules you have just talked about as you read the story.

Physical Health & Development/Health Status & Practices; builds awareness and ability to follow basic health and safety rules such as fire safety, traffic and pedestrian safety, and responding appropriately to potentially harmful objects, substances, and activities.

Reading the Story

When you get to the page where Antonio is looking into a travelers room, ask the children if they think that Antonio should go into the room to explore or not? Why? (“It’s not his room”, “I’m not allowed to be near a gun”, “The man might get mad”, “My big brother would go in the room and see the fishing stuff cause he likes to fish”.) On the page where everyone is standing in the lake, ask the children if they can find the baby, find Antonio and his mother. Ask them if they remember what fire safety rules Antonio and all the people were remembering. (Never hide, get outside and get outside quickly). When you get to the page where the animals come out into the water with the people, ask the children why they think this is happening? (Water puts out forest fires so all are safest in the water). Explain that all the people and animals were remembering rule #1, don’t be scared, be smart.

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; shows growing interest  and involvement in listening to and discussing a variety of fiction and non-fiction, and poetry.  

After Reading the Story

Go over the four fire safety rules with the children. Did the people in the story follow any or all of them? Talk to the children about your fire safety plan. Make sure they understand what they are to do when they hear the school fire alarm sound. Talk about the importance of staying as a group and walking out of the building. Use a bell or another sound to make a mock fire drill and practice it with the children.

Physical Health & Safety/Health Status & Practices; builds an awareness and ability to follow basic health and safety rules such as fire safety, traffic and pedestrian safety, and responding appropriately to potentially harmful objects, substances, and activities.


Make a copy of the forest animal cards and the other animal’s card. Put out a piece of paper with a line down the middle. On one half write ‘forest animals’, on the other write ‘not forest animals’. Have the children sort the cards accordingly.

Mathematics/Patterns & Measurement; shows growth in matching, sorting, putting together in a series, and regrouping objects according to one or two attributes such as color, shape, or size.

Music and Movement

Make one copy of the forest animal cards. Cut out and put into a container that the children cannot see inside. As you put them in, have the children name the animal. Add one jumping bean card per three children. Put these into the container also. The children take turns picking out a card and naming the animal. If they pick out a jumping beans card, they shout “Jumping Bean!” and everyone gets up and jumps. Continue until everyone has had or turn or the children grow tired of playing.

Language Development/Listening & Understanding; shows progress in understanding and following simple, and multiple-step directions.  AND  Social & Emotional Development/Cooperation; develops increasing abilities to give and take in interactions; to take turns in games or using materials; and to interact without being overly submissive or directive.


If you have fire trucks add them to the center today. Encourage the children to build a firehouse that the trucks can go inside of.

Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; begins to be able to determine whether or not two shapes are the same size and shape.


Pour school glue, an inch or two into the disposable cups. Let the children add sticks into the cup and leave it until it dries. This will take several days. After it is dry, show the children how to take a paintbrush, dip it into a color of paint, and allow it to drip over the sticks.   When they are dry, group the cups together for a 3d modern art forest sculpture.  Ask the children if they think it looks like a forest, why or why not? 

Creative Arts/Art; begins to understand and share opinions about artistic products and experiences.

Library and Writing

Put out cards with the words EXIT and 911 on them for the children to practice copying. Talk to the children as they write about the importance of these two ‘words’. EXIT, find the exit and explain that in an emergency to look for the EXIT sign to get out of a building quickly. 911 are the numbers you call in case of an emergency. Talk about what is an emergency and whom one would ask for when they call 911.

Literacy/Early Writing; progresses from using scribbles, shapes, and pictures to represent ideas, to using letter-like symbols, to copying or writing familiar words such as their name.

Sand and Water

Fill the table with a very small amount of water. Add rubber style animals and people that you might have. Encourage the children to stand an animal next to a person. Can they name all the animals in the water? Can they tell you anything about what happened in the story that put the animals and people in the water or what happened after the fire went out?

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; demonstrates progress in abilities to retell and dictate stories from books and experiences; to act out stories in dramatic play; and to predict what will happen next in a story.

Dramatic Play

Add any play tools that you might have so the children can help maintain the center and fix the broken chair or door to the stove. As they play, ask them to name the different tools, do they know what they are used for?

Social & Emotional Development/Knowledge of Families & Communities; develops a growing awareness of jobs and what is required to perform them.

Math and Manipulatives

Lay several of the name index cards on the table saying and pointing out whose name is on each card. Ask a child to pick a card from the pile. Can they name the name on the card? Ask them to put it onto the table with the others ones but in a specific location. (Can you put Ryan’s card under the card that says Paula, can you put Alison’s card next to the card that says Sean?). Continue, naming the cards and putting them in positional places on the table with the other cards (under, over, next to, beside, on top, underneath).

Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; builds increasing understanding of directionality, order, and positions of objects, and words such as up, down, over, under, top, bottom, inside, outside, in front, behind.  AND Literacy/Alphabet Knowledge; Knows the letters of the alphabet are a special category of visual graphics that can be individually named.

Outdoor Play

As you prepare to go outside, remind the children that in the story Antonio loved to look for signs of animals when he went outside. Challenge the children to look for sign so of animals on your playground. Encourage them to look carefully at the ground for signs of insects or, squirrels, birds, or any other creature that you are lucky enough to find.

Science/Scientific Knowledge; expands knowledge of and abilities to observe, describe, and discuss the natural world, materials, living things, and natural processes.


Ask the children if they can remember the 4 rules of fire safety?  Help them if they cannot.  Number four is, “If it’s smokey, crawl on your knees”.  Have the children crawl to the next activity.

Physical Health & Safety/Health Status & Practices; builds an awareness and ability to follow basic health and safety rules such as fire safety, traffic and pedestrian safety, and responding appropriately to potentially harmful objects, substances, and activities.

Dear parent, today we read a story about a forest fire and how all the animals and people stayed safe. There is a good link for talking to your child about forest fire safety. Check out the web site; www.smokeybear.com.


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About Kerry CI am an Early Childhood Educator who has seen daily the value of shared book readings with my preschoolers. I use the book theme in my centers and can daily touch upon a variety of Early Childhood Domains which makes assessing the children easy and individualized.