No matter what the age or level of your ESL students, they must be able to talk about household dangers for safety reasons.
For some of these activities, you will need to think about the age of your students. For example, in general you would teach the term “childproof” to older children and adults, but not to primary age students, as even native speakers at that age generally do not use that word. Nevertheless, all students need to know how to communicate about household dangers in order to stay safe. Use the activities below to teach this skill.
How to Teach About Household Safety
Room by Room
This activity is a great one to use if you have already covered the names of rooms in the house. You will need a large cut-out of a house. You can even use a dollhouse if one is available to you. Your teaching is always more memorable for your students if you have visual aids. Begin by going room by room, and reviewing or teaching the names of the rooms. Explain to the students that you are going to talk about household dangers. Next, make a chart that has each room as a heading. Brainstorm with your students for possible household dangers, and discuss what room they might happen in (it could be more than one room, such as a fire). You will also want to cover general terms, such as “dangerous,” “poisonous,” and “warning.”
If it is an intermediate or advanced class, you can try just brainstorming with little to no prompting. If it is more of a beginner’s class, have pictures of various household dangers, for example a fire or a child getting into cleaning solutions under the sink. Have them put the pictures in the right places, and then give them the vocabulary for the danger terms. Letting them brainstorm first allows them to process the idea before adding on learning some new vocabulary.
This is a good follow up activity to the introduction of the vocabulary terms. You can also use it to teach the imperative sentence. If you are not ready to teach that yet, just teach them the phrases necessary, such as, “Don’t play with matches!” and the like, without going into the term imperative. You can always refer back to this lesson when you do cover it. Review the terms they have learned to describe emergencies. Explain to them that today they are going to be the teacher, and warn others about possible household dangers in their homes. Give the example of “Don’t play with matches!” and see if the students can come up with some other examples. Depending on the class, you may need to give them some possibilities. Have them each create a poster warning others of their chosen household danger. When they are done, have them share. At a minimum, they should read what they have written and label their pictures aloud. More advanced students may talk more in-depth about the poster, and even take questions from the audience.
Under the Sink
This activity’s focus will vary depending on the age of your students. Typically, many people keep cleaning solutions and the like in the cabinet under the sink. This activity will focus on the dangers lurking there. If this activity is for children, it should focus on knowing not to ingest any of the cleaning solutions found there. If it is for older children or adults, it should focus on childproofing that area and keeping children safe. Begin by having various empty containers of different cleaning products. Discuss their names and their purposes. Review a typical label, showing an enlarged one if possible, and talk about the important terms, such as “Warning,” “Do not place near heat,” and “Poison Control Center.” Discuss where they may typically be found in a home (in the cabinet under the kitchen sink). Introduce the term “cabinet,” if necessary. Talk about keeping that cabinet locked if possible, and/or keeping those cleaning products out of the reach of children. Model a phone call to the Poison Control Center in case of ingestion and have the students role play that, if possible.
This activity would be best for older children and adults, due to the subject matter of planning an escape route on their own. Younger children can learn the vocabulary for fire, smoke and firefighter. They can see what a firefighter looks like in his full gear, and that they are there to help even though they look strange in all their gear.
A big household danger, of course, is fire. Review with students the possible causes of a fire in the home. If you have not done so with them yet, role play calling 9-1-1 in case of a fire or other emergency. In addition, let your students know that it is important to have an escape plan in their homes in case of fire. To do this, have your students make a map of their home with the rooms labeled. This can help to serve as a review. Next, tell them to draw lines on the map to show how their family could escape from various rooms in their home in case of a fire. They also need to mark a meeting place for the whole family outside. Have them share their maps, using prepositions to explain how they would escape from the house, if possible. This can be a great preposition review if you have already covered them. If not, provide assistance as necessary. Students can take these maps home and discuss them with their family.
What Would You Do?
This activity would be great for a class that has some conversational skills. You will need cards (approximately five per student) prepared with various household danger scenarios. One example would be, “You smell smoke in the living room, so you feel the wall. It is hot. What would you do?” Start by modeling; choose a card, read it and give an example of how to answer it. Next, put the class into partners and divide the cards among them. Have them take turns with their partners answering the questions. When they are done, have each person choose one card from their pile, read it and answer it in front of the whole class. Giving them a choice of answers which they have already composed makes students feel more comfortable. Having that level of comfort enables students to take risks with speaking, which is always our goal.
All ESL students need to be able to talk about household dangers, especially in case of an emergency.
Use the above activities to help your students be ready to communicate in English in any of these dangerous situations.