If you've watched your preschooler rescue dolls from burning buildings or heard him make a high-pitched siren sound as he races his toy fire truck to the scene, you might have an aspiring firefighter on your hands. Encourage his love of all things burning by introducing a few dramatic play activities that let him pretend to be a firefighter. Just keep the matches out of reach or he might think about starting fires so he can put them out.
1. Trip to the Fire Station
Take your preschooler to a fire station. If you call ahead, one or more on-duty firefighters can show your child around and answer his endless questions. Your junior firefighter will also get the opportunity to pretend he's on the job. Most firefighters let small kids climb on the trucks, pretend to drive and even try on their boots, pants, jackets and helmets. Your child might even leave with his own firefighter badge sticker and plastic helmet so he can continue his play at home.
2. Practice Fire Safety
Squeeze in useful lessons while you play with your preschooler. Let her wear her firefighter gear while she learns and she'll be even more excited. Teach her how to stop, drop and roll in case she catches on fire. You might demonstrate this first in a way that won't scare her. Lay a sheet over a few kitchen chairs and show your little firefighter how to crawl low so she doesn't inhale smoke. Set off your smoke detector and teach your child how to get out of the house. Show her two or three exit routes and then practice each of them as fast as you can. Warn her ahead of time though. The sound from smoke detectors might scare your child. Use a toy phone to practice dialing 911. Tell your child when it's appropriate to call 911 or the fire department might show up at your door unexpectedly.
3. Play Dress-up
Boy a toy firefighter ensemble so your preschooler can really get into pretending. Watch for costumes right after Halloween and you might score a sweet deal. Hang the gear up on a hook low enough so your child can reach it. That way he can get ready on his own when the mood to play firefighter hits.
4. Pretend Scenes
Set up pretend scenes so your junior firefighter can practice his obsession. Put a stuffed cat in a bush in your backyard so he can reach it. Pretend to call the fire department to report that your cat is stuck in the "tree" and watch as your preschooler responds to the scene and rescues your precious pet. Tape flames made of red, yellow and orange craft foam to the siding of your house. Let your kiddo use the garden hose to put out the fire. You might even save a large cardboard box and use paint to turn it into a fire truck for your child to drive.
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