Smokey Bear: A Unit Study on Fire & Fire Safety

Smokey Bear: A Unit Study on Fire & Fire Safety
Smokey Bear: A Unit Study on Fire & Fire Safety

On August 9, 1944, Smokey Bear was born. The well-known image was agreed to and an ad campaign was started to prevent forest fires.

During World War II, a Japanese submarine bombed the coast of California, lobbing shells into an oil field close to the Los Padres National Forest. There was a fear that further bombing of the Pacific Coast could start raging forest fires. We have to remember that at that time the majority of the men were off fighting in the war, and communities would be left to their own resources in the event of forest fires. So the ad campaign was launched by the War Advertising Council to bring to the public’s awareness a need to protect the forests and prevent accidental fires.

Smokey’s original words were “Smokey Says — Care Will Prevent 9 out of 10 Forest Fires,” but the slogan was changed three years later to the one we are more familiar with: “Remember…Only YOU can prevent forest fires.” This was more recently modified by changing forest fires to wildfires.

There was a real Smokey Bear, a bear cub orphaned in a large fire in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico in 1950 and rescued by army soldiers who helped fight the fire. The story caught the attention of the press, and the State Game Warden presented the cub to the Chief of the Forest Service with the agreement that the bear’s publicity would be used to help with fire prevention. Smokey Bear lived at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.

Further Investigation

Smokey Bear: The Forest Is Many Things
1963 ad.
(You may want to install an ad blocker before viewing.)

The Evolution of Smokey Bear
His changes over the years.

The Story of Smokey
How Smokey was adopted to help prevent forest fires.

This is Fire
A fact sheet on the nature of fire.

Elements of Fire
How fire works at

Home Fire Escape Plan
Planning sheet for kids from the National Fire Protection Association.

Nature’s Housekeeper
The role of fire in maintaining the ecosystem at

Prescribed Fires
Their use in reducing catastrophic wildfire damage at

Wildfire Map
Current large wildfire locations.


Smokey Mini-Poster
Dot-to-dot coloring page at

Smokey Story
4-page download at with Smokey’s Story and fire prevention tips.

Sesame Street Fire Safety Station
8-page download from FEMA on fire safety featuring the Sesame Street characters.

Friends of Smokey Bear Workbook
Very nice 10-page coloring/activity book from the West Virginia Division of Forestry.

Living With Fire
Interactive application from the U.S. Forest Service that let’s you manage a fire in the Ponderosa pine habitat.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Stop, Drop, and Roll!
Unit from Jodie Wolfe that originally appeared in Home School Enrichment magazine covers art, English, science, math, and social studies while learning about fire safety.

Smokey’s Wildfire Prevention Detectives
6-page download aimed middle school students to teach wildfire prevention and fire safety.

Fire Safety
Boy Scout merit badge workbook.

Fire Safety Lapbook
Foldables at that include book list and coloring sheets.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Smokey’s Coloring Sheet
From the West Virginia Division of Forestry.

Smokey Poster
Fire safety poster at

How Do Wildfires Spread?
Printable color graphic for notebook.

Smokey Bear Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, or wrapping up.