Ministry of the
Solicitor General

Lesson Plans




  • Media Arts, Oral Communication

Grade level:

  • Four


  • Emergencies and Personal Safety

Time required:

  • Day 1 – 60 min.
  • Day 2 – 45 min.


Prepare a newspaper article about emergencies and personal safety. The purpose of their article is to educate other grade four students about what an emergency is, the types of emergencies and the people/agencies that deal with emergencies and injury prevention.

Instructional Expectations:

The Grade Four learners will:


  • Produce media texts for specific purposes and audiences, using a few simple media forms and appropriate conventions and techniques
  • Demonstrate an understanding of appropriate speaking behaviour in a variety of situations, including paired sharing and small- and large-group discussions


a) Learners – Required Prior Learning

  • Students should have spent some time looking at newspaper articles and be aware of the conventions and techniques associated with them
  • Students need to have used the writing process before and should have reviewed this recently

b) Learning Environment

  • The lesson component will be completed by the teacher at the front of the classroom
  • The activity component will be completed at desks

c) Resources

  • Copies of Is It An Emergency? flashcard set (attached)
  • Stopwatch, timer or clock
  • Photos of damage caused by an earthquake, tornado and flood
  • Chart drawn on board with two columns: Small-Scale Emergencies, Large-Scale Emergencies
  • Chart drawn on board with three columns: Natural Emergencies, Technological Emergencies and Human-caused Emergencies
  • A selection of magazines, books and/or posters depicting various large-scale emergencies (optional)
  • A few good examples of newspaper articles with a good headline and photograph.

** Teachers may contact their local CEMC before this lesson to find out which large-scale emergencies are most likely to happen in the community. The local CEMC can be contacted through your local municipal office.

Content Strategies



a) Introduction

Introduction to emergencies

b) Establishing the Learning

Recognition of small-scale emergencies and large scale emergencies

Recognition that small-scale emergencies are normally handled by local officials

Recognition that some large-scale emergencies cannot be handled by local officials alone

Identification of the three types of large-scale emergencies (natural, technological and human-caused)

Identification of people and community agencies that can assist with injury prevention and emergency situations

Identification of Community Emergency Management Coordinator (CEMC) as the person in their community who deals with large-scale emergency preparedness and response in their community

Identification of the Canadian Red Cross and St. John Ambulance as recognized providers of first-aid training/injury prevention in Canada.

Divide the students into pairs and hand each pair of student a Is It An Emergency? flashcard set. Allow the students one minute (use stopwatch, clock or timer) to sort the cards into one of two piles - emergency or non-emergency. When the minute is up, ask the students which cards they put in each pile and correct any incorrect responses.

Post all of the emergency situation flashcards on the blackboard.

Ask the students to define what an emergency is. The correct definition is below:

An emergency is a situation that could cause damage to property and put people in danger.

Ask students to look at the emergency situations on the board and see if they could further divide the emergencies in some way. Allow the students some time to think about this and reply.

The students should divide the emergency situations into small-scale emergencies (those that affect one or a few people such as the car crash) and into large-scale emergencies (those that affect an entire neighbourhood, village, town, city such as an earthquake).

Separate the emergency flashcards into small-scale and large-scale categories on the board using a chart.

Go through the emergencies on the small-scale side of the chart and ask who the students would need to assist them in each situation (fire, police, ambulance or some combination thereof).

Ensure that all students understand the functions of each branch of their community’s emergency services.

Go through the emergencies on the large-scale side of the chart and explain that these sorts of emergencies can cause wide-spread damage and casualties that could overwhelm the resources of the local fire, ambulance (and hospital) and police services. Post the photos of the damage caused by an earthquake, tornado and flood next to those emergencies.

Brainstorming Activity – Have the students pair up and think about what could be damaged/made no longer available if a large-scale emergency, like those on the board, occurred.

Possible responses include:

- power, gas, water, telephone services interrupted

- stores and banks closed

- roads, bridges damaged

- large fires from ruptured gas lines

Explain that serious damage from large-scale emergencies can require a community to ask for outside help (neighbouring communities, the province).

The teacher should define each of the three types of large-scale emergencies.

Natural Emergencies – caused by natural forces (tornadoes, ice storms, earthquakes, forest fires, etc.)

Technological Emergencies – caused by a failure of technology (power failures, oil/gas line failures, dam failures, transportation emergencies, etc.)

Human-caused Emergencies – caused by the actions of people (riots, terrorism, etc.)

Using the emergencies on the large-scale side of the chart, have the students decide whether each is a natural, technological or human-caused emergency (tornado, earthquake and flood under Natural, train derailment and hazardous spill under Technological). Have the students give you some other examples of emergencies and place them on the second chart.

** Some students may notice that some technological emergencies can be caused by natural emergencies and this is true (ice storm causes a power outage).

Explain that there are people in the community that can help manage large-scale emergencies and agencies in the community that can help with injury prevention in the event of a large-scale (or small-scale) emergency.

The teacher should explain that each community in Ontario is required by law to have a Community Emergency Management Coordinator (CEMC). This person is responsible for the community’s emergency management program. They have many important things to do as the CEMC such as write and maintain the community’s emergency response plan (a detailed explanation of how a community will respond to a large-scale emergency) and educate the public about how to prepare for the emergencies that are most likely to happen in their community.

Explain to the students that by learning about the emergencies that are most likely to happen in the community, they can better prepare for them and reduce the chance of injury.

If there is information to provide to students about how to prepare for the emergencies most likely to happen in their community, this would be a good time to go over it. This information may be available through the local CEMC.

Emphasize the importance of first-aid training as a way to avoid injury prevention during large-scale and small-scale emergencies.

Content Strategies

Consolidation of Learning

Write the following questions on the board. Ask each of the questions and allow students to answer. Record the answers on the board.

***The questions on the board represent the information that students will later use in their newspaper articles (see Application).

  1. Define an emergency
  2. What is the difference between small-scale and large-scale emergencies?
  3. Name a person in the community who helps prepare the public in case of a large-scale emergency.
  4. Name two community agencies that can provide first-aid training.
  5. Identify the types of emergencies most likely to happen in the community.
  6. What could be damaged/made no longer available if a large-emergency were to affect the community?
  7. Who could our community contact to get more help to deal with an emergency if the emergency was too big for our community to handle?


Each student will be writing a newspaper article about Emergencies and Personal Safety. The purpose is to educate other students in grade four about what an emergency is, the types of emergencies and the people/agencies that deal with emergencies and injury prevention. The article should look like a real newspaper article with a heading and related photograph with caption (either real photograph or drawing representing a photograph). To be considered a completed article, the information in the article must allow anyone reading it to answer the above questions.

The article is to be drafted on day one. The article will then go through the writing process on day two with a revised draft completed by the end of the day.

Provide students with lined paper, dictionaries and some examples of good newspaper articles to use as a guide.


Circulate during the time that students are preparing their drafts in order to ensure they understand the content covered/task and are proceeding at a reasonable rate. Make note of students experiencing difficulty or requiring assistance.

Evaluate students using the attached rubric.

Additional Related Activities

  • Have a Red Cross/St. John Ambulance representative teach some basic first-aid to the class
  • Invite the local CEMC to the class and have him/her speak about emergency preparedness and allow the students to photograph them for their newspaper articles
  • Have students type their newspaper articles and print the finished product with a photo from clip art inserted into the article

Is It An Emergency? Flashcard Set

(Cut these out before the lesson)

Is It An Emergency? Flashcard Set 1

Is It An Emergency? Flashcard Set 2

Is It An Emergency? Flashcard Set 3

Is It An Emergency? Flashcard Set 4

Emergency preparedness Grade 4 - Lesson 1