Preparing Kindergarteners for Lockdown Drills

One of my least favorite things about being in education in America is the need for lockdowns and lockdown drills. I hate that we even have to think about this and practice this and that our kids have to worry about it. But, since we have to cover it, I try to be thoughtful about how I’m teaching students, especially the youngest students who are in school for the first time. I’ve outlined below how I teach Kindergarteners about lockdown drills. Keep in mind, their teachers have already shown them where to sit and explained that they’ll need to move silently and swiftly to their designated spot. I am going in to reinforce that information and follow up with calming strategies that can be used in the moment.

How I Teach Kindergarteners About Lockdown Drills

Story: Lockdown Drill at Superhero School

This story was the perfect explainer to open a discussion about the lockdown drill. It explains the drill in simple terms and highlights the purpose of the safety behaviors. It even has a helpful discussion guide to review where to go, what to do, and who to trust during the drill. Bonus: it’s free on Kindle Unlimited!

Need to teach Kindergarteners about lockdown drills? This book and these activities helped put my Kinders' minds at ease for the drill.
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Quick Stretch

We did some quick superhero poses after sitting through the story and discussion. The students loved these, and I loved that it connected to the superhero story we read. You can download them for free here!

Need to teach Kindergarteners about lockdown drills? This book and these activities helped put my Kinders' minds at ease for the drill.

Breathing Exercises

Many of the students were concerned about being quiet during the lockdown. “What if I need to say something?” “What if I have questions?” I validate their worries and let them know that I will teach them some strategies to help themselves feel more calm in the moment. We practice 3 different breathing exercises:

  • Lightning bolt breath
  • Balloon breath
  • Superhero mask (figure 8) breath

We practice all of these on printable cards the students can keep (and superhero masks they can decorate). Then we practice doing these breaths by tracing the shapes on our palms since students won’t be taking anything with them to their designated lockdown spot.

Need to teach Kindergarteners about lockdown drills? This book and these activities helped put my Kinders' minds at ease for the drill.

A to Z

I also teach them the A to Z strategy for remaining calm. As a class, we share things we love that start with each letter of the alphabet. Then, students practice on their own naming things in their minds that they love that start with each letter. This is just a distraction strategy to help them feel calm and remain quiet during the drill.

Need to teach Kindergarteners about lockdown drills? This book and these activities helped put my Kinders' minds at ease for the drill.

Questions

I save time to let them ask all of their questions too. We offer lots of reassurance that it is just a drill, or practice. We focus on safe people and listening to the adults we know and trust in the building. While it’s a terrible thing to even have to practice, we want our students to feel prepared and give them the tools to help themselves feel calm while we practice.

Need to teach Kindergarteners about lockdown drills? This book and these activities helped put my Kinders' minds at ease for the drill.

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