Standard Lesson

Safety Tips With Officer Buckle and Gloria

K - 2
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Four 45- to 60-minute sessions
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Recognizing problems and identifying solutions are skills that help students develop awareness of themselves and their surroundings. After reading the book Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann, students explore potential safety problems and then devise possible solutions. Each student creates a safety tip poster similar to the ones in the book to present a solution to one of the identified safety problems. Students communicate their safety messages to others by displaying the posters around the school or in the community. This lesson could easily be adapted for use with older students.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

  • Various types of learning can be promoted through writing, and students need opportunities to write in all curricular areas.

  • Effective classroom practice includes various types of writing tasks.

  • Building upon content objectives, students can engage in informative, personal, and imaginative uses of writing to consider and connect the ideas and information from a lesson.

  • When teachers move beyond simple recall and scaffold writing tasks that support thinking and learning, informational writing can be important in students' learning.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann (Putnam Juvenile, 1995)

  • Bike helmet

  • Two not-too-ripe melons or small pumpkins

  • Computers with Internet access

  • Pencils, markers, or crayons

  • Chart paper




1. Consider potential safety topics to focus on with your students. These may vary depending on the location of your school. For example, students who live in rural areas may need to know about different safety issues than students who live in large cities. Some possibilities include:

  • Bicycle safety (e.g., wearing helmets)

  • Health safety (e.g., washing hands)

  • Food safety and sanitation (e.g., thoroughly cooking foods)

  • Car seat and seatbelt safety (e.g., wearing seatbelts)

  • Stranger danger (e.g., avoiding strangers)

  • Household safety (e.g., having flashlights for emergencies)

  • Fire safety (e.g., how to exit a building during a fire)

  • Environment safety (e.g., putting out campfires)

  • Cyber safety (e.g., only going to websites appropriate for children)

  • Water and boating safety (e.g., wearing life jackets)

  • Weather safety and emergency preparedness (e.g., what to do during a tornado)

  • Drugs and alcohol (e.g., saying "no")

  • Medicines in the home (e.g., keeping medicines out of reach of children)

  • School, bus, and playground safety (e.g., walking, not running, in the halls)

  • Sports safety (e.g., wearing appropriate safety gear)

  • Babyproofing at home (e.g., putting covers on electrical outlets)
2. Review the websites on the Safety-Related Books and Websites sheet for additional safety topic ideas.

3. Preview the book Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann. Pay attention to the various safety tips presented throughout the book and consider how you can talk with your students about them. Note the part of the book where safety tips are not followed and what the possible consequences could be.

4. Decide where you will exhibit students' finished safety tip posters so students can share their messages with others. Make appropriate arrangements for the posters to be displayed. Some possibilities include the school, local library, local police or fire station, city hall, or community center.

5. To prepare for Session 1, look at the Bicycle Helmet Demonstrations website. Take a bicycle helmet to the grocery store with you and purchase two not-too-ripe melons or small pumpkins that fit inside the helmet. Draw a smiley face on one melon or pumpkin and a sad face on the other. Make copies of the Family note and Safety Problems and Solutions Homework worksheet for your students.

6. To prepare for Session 2, make copies of the Safety Tip Poster Draft worksheet for students.

7. To prepare for Session 3, arrange for time for students to use computers that have Internet access to create their posters either in the classroom or the school computer lab. Access the Book Cover Creator and make sure it works properly. (You will need the latest version of Flash; visit the Site Tools page for a free download.) Add it to the favorites on the computers your students will be using.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Relate prior knowledge to textual information by recognizing safety problems in a text and retelling the central ideas of a story as they develop safety solutions

  • Use spoken, written, and visual language to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes by creating safety tip posters and presenting them to different groups of people

Session 1: Safety Tips Introduction

The Bicycle Helmet Demonstrations in this session are credited to Dr. Hal Fenner of the Snell Foundation.


1. Show students the helmet. Ask questions such as the following:
  • What is this? (A helmet)

  • When do you use it? (When you ride a bike, skateboard, etc.)

  • Where do you wear it? (On your head)

  • Who has a helmet at home? (Have students raise their hands.)


2. At the top of a sheet of chart paper, write the question, Why do people use helmets? Record students' responses.

Melon and Helmet Demonstration

3. Tell students that you are going to demonstrate how important wearing a helmet can be when riding a bike or skateboard.

4. Show students the two melons, explaining that the melons represent heads. Inform them that the melons are going for a pretend bike ride and will get in an accident.

5. As you put the helmet on the smiling melon, ask students, "Why do you think this melon is smiling?" Then inquire about the other melon, "Why do you think this melon is sad?"

6. Hold in front of you the melon that is not wearing a helmet. Have students count to three, and then drop it on the floor. It will smash apart. This will have a big impact on your students!

7. Do the same with the helmeted melon. Hold the melon with the helmet facing toward the floor. Have students count to three again, and then drop it. The melon should last for at least three drops before it cracks.

8. Have students evaluate what happened during the demonstration. Some questions you could include:
  • What happened to the melon without a helmet?

  • What happened to the melon wearing a helmet?

  • What could happen if you ride a bike or skateboard and don't wear a helmet?

  • Is it safe to ride a bike or skateboard without wearing a helmet?

  • Do you think not wearing a helmet when riding a bike or skateboard is a problem? Why or why not?
9. Tell students you are going to read a book about safety and will be learning about safety problems and solutions during this lesson.

Read Aloud

10. Show students the book Officer Buckle and Gloria, and tell them that it was written and illustrated by Peggy Rathmann.

11. Have students make predictions about the story as you show them the cover of the book, such as who the characters are, what the setting is, what the problem may be, and what they think will happen in the book.

12. Read the book aloud. You can stop as you are reading to allow students to make comments or ask questions as you see fit.

13. Review the book by asking students about the accident that happens at the end of the story, showing the pages as needed.
  • What was the safety problem at the school when Officer Buckle was gone?

  • What happened to the kids?

  • What did Mrs. Toppel do?

  • Where did the hammer land?

  • What happened to Claire?

  • What could have happened to Claire if she hadn't been wearing her helmet?
14. Go back through the book to highlight with students the many safety tips throughout the pages and on the front and inside covers. Students will find some of the tips pretty funny, especially the ones with drawings of Gloria. You may casually talk about the safety tips during this time, such as if students have heard of any of the tips before, where they have heard them, and why the tips would be important to know.

Identifying Safety Problems and Safety Solutions

15. Go over the following safety problems with students, having students explain why they are problems and what possible safety solutions to each one could be. Some possible responses are listed in the table below.

Safety Problem

Why It's a Problem

Possible Safety Solutions

Matches are left on the counter

A child could play with them and start a fire Keep matches out of the reach of children
Riding in a car without a seatbelt The person without a seatbelt on could get hurt or killed in an accident
Always wear a seatbelt when riding in a car
Leaving towels on the counter next to the stove when cooking
The towels could catch on fire Keep towels away from open flames and hot surfaces
Someone plays outside and doesn't wash his or her hands before eating
He or she could get sick from germs that may be on hands Wash hands before eating
A child runs into the street to get a ball He or she could get hit by a car Look both ways before crossing the street
A stranger pulls up in a car and tries to talk to a child
The stranger could try to kidnap or hurt the child Never talk to strangers
There's a fire in the house when the family is asleep
People in the house could get burned or killed Have working smoke detectors in the house

16. Encourage students to think of other safety problems along with why they could be dangerous and how to avoid them.

17. Tell students they will be completing a homework assignment with their families to write down two safety problems, identify why they are problems, and come up with a solution for each. Stress how important it is for them to do this homework because they will need to use it during the next session.

18. Announce that students will be creating safety tip posters similar to the ones that Officer Buckle and Gloria make in the book and that the posters will be displayed for other people to read so they can learn about safety. Emphasize the significance of communicating safety tips with others because the tips can help protect people, animals, and the environment.

Homework (due before Session 2): Send home a copy of the Safety Problems and Solutions Homework worksheet and the Family note with each student after Session 1. Have students complete and return the homework assignment to you prior to Session 2. This is a fairly simple assignment and could reasonably be sent home the night after Session 1 to be returned within the next day or two so you can proceed to Session 2. If a student does not return his or her homework assignment prior to Session 2, you could provide time in class for that student to get the assignment done.

Session 2: Review Book and Create Safety Tip Poster Drafts

Before this session, review the homework that students turned in and make sure the assignments are adequately completed.

1. Review Officer Buckle and Gloria with students. Some possible guiding questions to ask are the following:
  • Who are the main characters in the story?

  • What does Officer Buckle and Gloria share with the students at the schools?

  • What are some of the safety tips you remember from the story?

  • When do the children listen to the safety tips the most?

  • What happens when Officer Buckle and Gloria go to the schools by themselves?

  • What do the students like about Gloria?

  • How do Officer Buckle and Gloria feel when they work alone?

  • What would you have done if you were Officer Buckle?

  • What was safety tip #101, Officer Buckle's "best safety tip yet"?

  • What do you think Officer Buckle and Gloria will do next?
2. Reread the book aloud to students. This will give them an opportunity to recall the events of the story and deepen their comprehension of the text.

3. Return the homework assignments to students, and allow them to review their ideas. Ask a few students to share the safety problems and safety solutions that they wrote down.

4. Have students begin working on drafts of their safety tip posters next.

a. Give a copy of the Safety Tip Poster Draft worksheet to each student. Go over the worksheet and explain how students should complete it.

b. Tell students that they may select one of the ideas from their homework assignment or another safety tip that has been discussed in class. Let students know they can pick any number they would like to give their safety tip. Tell students they only need to make a sketch of their illustration right now.

c. Call attention to the importance of making the safety tips clear and easily understandable to other people. Remind students that the posters will be on display so they will need to do their very best work on the posters.

5. Give students time to work on the drafts for their posters. Work with students and offer assistance as needed. If students do not complete their drafts at school, they can finish them for homework. As students finish, mark the box at the bottom of each student's worksheet to indicate that you have reviewed and approved the draft.

Note: If some students finish their work early, you may direct them to participate in one of the activities listed in the Extensions section.

Session 3: Create the Safety Tip Posters

This session may need to be repeated, depending on your access to computers, if there is not enough time for all students to complete their posters in one session.

1. Have students use the Book Cover Creator to create their final safety tip posters.

2. Tips to follow when using the Book Cover Creator:
  • Select Front Cover Only.

  • Select which type of text you will be using: color or black and white.

  • Select the Title & Subtitle template.

  • Type "Safety Tip" and the tip number as the title.

  • Type the actual safety tip as the subtitle.

  • Print out the poster.
3. After students have printed copies of their posters, they will need to work on creating drawings that illustrate their safety tips.

Session 4: Sharing Safety Tip Posters

1. Give each student an opportunity to share his or her safety tip poster with the class. Encourage students to hold up their posters so everyone can see. Use this time to assess how students did meeting the objectives of the lesson using the Safety Tip Poster Assessment Rubric. Ask the following questions of each student to check for his or her understanding of the lesson and to assess the objectives:
  • What was the safety problem you identified that needed to be addressed?

  • What is the safety tip you selected to solve the problem?

  • Why is it important to tell people about this safety tip?

  • Is there anything else you would like to share about your poster or safety tip?

Note: You can model how to share the posters by showing one of the safety tips from the book. Respond to each of the questions as you would like students to do when you ask the questions to them.

2. After a poster has been shared, have the other students share their thoughts about it. You can either allow the presenter to call on three students, or you can do this yourself. Using these guidelines, when students are called upon, they may do one of the following:
  • Share something they like about the poster.

  • Tell why they think the safety tip will be helpful.

  • Ask one question about the safety tip or poster.
3. Once students finish sharing their posters, use a camera to photograph each student holding up his or her poster. The photographs can be used to create a class book or photo album to share with other students or families.

4. Remind students that they will be displaying their safety tip posters. If the display location is in the school or nearby, plan a trip to view the posters.

Note: You might choose to inform the local newspaper about the location and dates of the safety tip posters display. This will be an additional way for students to share their safety messages with others.


  • Scan or digitally photograph the safety tip posters and use them to create a class book, webpage, slide show, or movie of safety tips. Software such as Windows Movie Maker or iMovie could be used to easily accomplish this. If you are unfamiliar with how to do this, ask staff members or parents for assistance. The slide show or movie could be shared with other classes or with students' families.

  • Have students view the Officer Buckle and Gloria video, narrated by John Lithgow (Weston Woods/Scholastic, 1997). Ask them to talk about how it is similar to or different from the book.

  • Provide books on safety topics for students to read or allow time for students to explore some child-friendly safety websites. Suggestions for each are listed on the Safety-Related Books and Websites sheet.

  • Arrange for community members to come to school and talk to students about safety topics. Some ideas include a firefighter speaking about fire safety, a police officer speaking about stranger danger, or a nurse speaking about health and food safety. Another possibility would be to invite a police officer to the school to fingerprint students for identification purposes.

  • Have students collect examples of safety warnings and bring them to school. Possibilities include signs, brochures, and labels on foods and medicines.

  • Have students draw a picture of Retro Bill, the King of Safety and Self-Esteem, from the Retro Bill Funhouse website and then submit their drawings for possible posting on the website.

  • Review various types of safety signs and have students make their own signs to display around the classroom or school (e.g., Stop, Slow: Children at Play, One Way).

  • As a homework assignment, have students make emergency contact phone lists for their homes that include important phone numbers such as 911, nonemergency police and fire contacts, poison control, doctors, or relatives or friends to call in an emergency.

  • Provide CPR or First Aid classes for parents to take at the school or at another local agency.

  • Organize a car seat safety check event at your school. Local police departments or car dealerships often will do car seat checks for the community free of charge.

Student Assessment / Reflections

Using the Safety Tip Poster Assessment Rubric, assess if students met the objectives of the lesson when they share their safety tip posters with the class. A score of 3 indicates that the student did an exemplary job of meeting the objectives. A score of 2 indicates that the student did a sufficient job of meeting the objectives. A score of 1 indicates that the student did an insufficient job of meeting the objectives. If a student scores 1 in all of the areas, you may want to have him or her rework the project to improve the level of achievement.