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Raking up twigs and leaves – Stage 2

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Bush fire safety


The ‘Raking up Twigs and Leaves’ safety message explores the importance of ensuring that vegetation and rubbish are cleared away from homes. Reducing, removing and managing vegetation, such as long grass, dead branches, leaves, twigs and undergrowth, within a 20-metre radius of your home and five metres of any sheds or garages, helps to protect your property during a bushfire.

It is recommended that you view the background information for teachers before undertaking this lesson.

Links to NSW Curriculum


Environment strand

  • ENS2.5 – describes places in the local area and other parts of Australia and explains their significance.

Personal Development, Health and Physical Education

Personal Health strand

  • PHS2.12 – discusses the factors influencing personal health choices.

Safe Living strand

  • SLS2.13 – discusses how safe practices promote personal wellbeing.


  • EN2-11D – responds to and composes a range of texts that express viewpoints of the world similar to and different from their own.

Learning outcomes

Participating in this lesson will help students to achieve the following learning outcomes:

  • Students will discuss the notion of ‘fuel’ and determine what items around their yard at home could be fuel for a fire.
  • Students will learn how they can help protect their home from bushfire damage by ensuring that their yard is tidy and clear of ‘fuel’.


Lesson steps

As a class, watch the ‘Raking up Twigs and Leaves' video. Discuss:

  • What was the aim of the ‘race’ in the safety message?
  • What needed to be cleaned up from around the yard?
  • Why did the yard need to be kept tidy?
  • In the message, Amy says that raking up leaves and twigs helps to prevent bushfires from getting close to the house. How do students think this helps?

Introduce the topic of ‘fuel’. Explain that fire needs three things to burn: heat, fuel and oxygen, also known as the ‘fire triangle’. Discuss that if one (or more) of these things is taken away, fire cannot stay alight. Display the ‘Fire Triangle’ diagram on the IWB. Discuss each element, what it means and how it could be removed to extinguish a fire (e.g. covering a fire with a fire blanket to remove access to oxygen).

In the safety message leaves and twigs are examples of fuel. Small leaves and twigs are sometimes referred to as ‘fine fuels’. Explain that when they catch fire and are carried by the wind, they are called embers. Embers can travel long distances and create new fires in their path. As a class, brainstorm some more examples of items that could fuel a fire. Have students justify their contributions (i.e. why it could be classified as fuel) and make a class list on the board.

In pairs, students to review the list and sort items into those that might be found around the yard at home, and those that would not. Share ideas and agree on a class list. Students to record the items that they think apply to their own yard, and add any that have not yet been listed.

Students to use the ‘Yard Clean-Up Plan’ activity sheet to create a plan to keep their own yard tidy. They can begin this sheet at school with a ‘job ideas’ class brainstorm. Consider:

  • the jobs that are specific to their yard at home
  • who will be responsible for each job
  • how often each job should be completed.

Students take the sheet home to complete, then bring it back to school to share. After sharing it, they should take it home again and display it somewhere for the family to use.

Further activities

Here are some suggested extra activities to extend the students’ learning.

  • Discuss how the seasons can affect the job of cleaning up the yard.
  • Brainstorm a list of equipment that is needed to keep a yard tidy.
  • As a class, walk around the school and identify fire ‘fuel’, or bushfire hazards that might need to be removed or fixed.
  • Not all plants provide the same ‘fuel’ for a fire. Research to find out which plant types are more suitable for planting in bushfire prone areas and which are not.
  • Make an advertisement (print, TV or radio) that reminds people to keep their yards clear and tidy and/or of the dangers of having vegetation close to their house or shed.
  • Invite someone from your state or territory fire agency to speak to the class about ways to prepare for bushfire season.

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Australiasian Fire and Emergency Services Council