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Disclosure: I have been working on promotion of this app on behalf of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and WeAreTeachers.com and I am compensated to promote this app on my own blog. All words and opinions are my children’s and mine. 

Sparky and the Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms teaches fire safety 

National Fire Prevention Week is a big one at Alice’s preschool: the fire fighters visited and brought their fire truck! The firemen (“I know you said there might be some fire women, Mama, but there were only dads!”, said Alice) were a huge hit and made a big impact.

Alice came home telling us about the importance of “Stop, Drop and Roll Around” (she added the ‘around’, and you know, it works), to “crawl on the ground like babies” if there is smoke, and that we needed to check our smoke alarm batteries because they might be all used up like the ones in our Wii-motes.

Out of the mouth of my three-year-old came a heck of a lot of fire prevention wisdom.

We have continued the fire safety learning at home with the NFPA’s new, free app for kids in honor of Fire Prevention Week. Sparky and The Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms aims to both educate and entertain kids as they learn fire-safety skills.

My kids are age 3, 8 and 10, and all three of the kids used the app. Alice and third-grader Eve got the most enjoyment out of it, but fifth grader Charlie was game to check it out as a fun fire safety refresher course.

There are two sections, and largest and most important section is the interactive mystery story in which Sparky the Fire Dog and his pals figure out who stole all of the Best Beepers Smoke Alarms from the factory. The story is engaging and educational about fire safety, having shades of both Magic Schoolbus and Scooby-Doo.

Alice liked the narrated story feature, and I liked how the text highlighted along with the narrator for pre-and early readers.  Eve turned off the narration and read the story herself and to her little sister. On each page of the story, kids encounter fire safety messages. The kids’ favorite part of the story were tracking down the hidden clues on each page, and also discovering funny tappable “extras.”

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Guided questions throughout the story encourage kids’ deeper learning and offered up good family discussion points about fire safety. With humor and age appropriateness, kids learn about the importance of working smoke alarms, what to do when a smoke alarm sounds and escape planning.

The second section of the app is an interactive game in which the player helps Sparky as he flies on a smoke alarm (just go with it) as he collect batteries and more smoke alarms in the air while trying to avoid being bumped by pigeons mid-air. This game does not take much skill (it is much simpler to advance to the next level than say, Temple Run) and so my preschooler could play without frustration.

For my third-grader, I liked how there were math problems to solve at the end of each game level in order to advance to the next.

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We all enjoyed that the catchy Recess Monkey smoke alarm song, “What’s That Sound?” plays while you play the game. Families can also watch the quirky-cute music video within the app, without advancing into the wild world of YouTube (the app contains gated areas to ensure that only adults can exit the app.)

If you are a teacher, the app includes help for incorporating the app in your classroom. All activities in the app are driven by the Common Core State Standards.

Sparky and the Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms is free for both iOs and Android. I recommend for your family’s learning and enjoyment for Fire Safety Week and beyond!

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