Lesson Plan

City Departments Help Menasha:
Fire Protection


Background Information for Teachers

“City Departments Help Menasha” includes a section on the Menasha fire department and related articles. When students read or write a report or newspaper article they need to keep in mind the 5 W's. We want students to recognize and be able to find these 5 W's (who, what, when, where, and why). This lesson will start in the classroom and continue in the computer lab.


Activity 1--- Five W Detectives


In the classroom- A story map chart and any children's newspaper or magazine such as Scholastic, Kids Time, Kids Sports Illustrated or KIND News.

In the computer lab - Computers, projector, pencil, social studies notebook or paper.

Introduction (completed in the classroom)

  1. Ask students what are the five W's that should be included in a report or looked for in a newspaper article?

Answer-Who, What, When, Where, Why.

  1. There is also an H we use with news articles and reports. What does the H stand for?

Answer-How, as in how did it happen?

  1. Compare and contrast the structure of the story map to the 5 W's.

Answer-In a story map there are characters which would be the who.

In story maps there is a setting which would be the same as the where or when.

In a story map there is a problem which is comparable to the why.

In a story map there are events which would be the what.

In a story map there is a resolution which could be the how.

Model the Process

Read an article out of Kids Time, KIND News, and Scholastic or some similar magazine and together look for and discuss the 5 W's and the H.

Guided Practice

Go to computer lab have the students sit and watch as you show how to go to the Menasha History: Change Over Time Website. If the students have not already saved this to Favorites show them how to do that also. Once at the site click on “City Departments Help Menasha” then click on “Fire Protection” scroll down to number 7 a short article entitled “Up From the Ashes.” Have the students find the 5W's and H and write them down, then share their answers orally.

Who-J.J. Marshal

What-Back in business

When-November 15, 1890, after fire

Why-pleased to meet all new friends and old patrons

Where- Next to T D Phillips' furniture store- Neenah/Menasha

How-As a result of past favors and continuing patronage

Independent Practice

Be a detective and find the 5 W's and the H in the Article ‘Up in Smoke' and write them in your Social Studies Notebook or on a piece of paper.

Who-Henry Bunks, the Menasha Fire Department

What-Fire (a roaring Hades of flames), four buildings on Menasha Main Street burned

Where-downtown Menasha

When- Wednesday, September 27, 1890 shortly after 1 o'clock

Why-The origin of the fire is a mystery.

How-The Menasha fire department with the able assistance of the Neenah Fire Department worked with the highest order of efficiency to put out the flames.

Share Time

This can be done in the computer lab or classroom.

Allow students to share their answers from the lesson, accept any reasonable answers, provide feedback and praise.


Activity 2--- Be a Detective

Background information for Teachers

Tell the students that reading is a message-getting, meaning-making process. This process starts by using text features such as titles, subtitles, and pictures. When reading something that doesn't make sense you must reread and try to clear up the confusion. Inform them that sometimes readers just reread a couple of sentences to figure out the meaning and other times they have to reread a whole section.


Computer Lab, post-its, social studies notebook or paper and a pencil


Ask students why you sometimes need to read things more than once.

Answers- You may have read it too fast and not gotten the meaning. There might have been words that didn't make sense to you. The reader may have been confused by something.

Model the Process

Have the students sit and watch as you show how to go to Menasha History: Change Over Time Website. If the students have not already saved this to Favorites show them how to do that also. Once at the site click on “City Departments Help Menasha” then click on “Fire Protection” scroll to Fire Protection item #6.

Have students take turns reading sentences in this article .

  1. Ask, In the first sentence what does “Wednesday last” mean? Answer-not the Wednesday in this week but the prior week or week before.
  2. In that same sentence what does “received by the Company at the dock” mean? Answer-the fire fighters went to the dock where the engine was being delivered by boat.
  3. In the second sentence what do you think “the boys exhibited around town” means? Answer-the fire fighters drove it through Menasha.
  4. “Menasha is always ahead, and our Fire Company cannot be beat by any in the state” means what?
  5. “In the evening the firemen and Village Trustees had a good time around a sumptuous repast at Bishop's Hall.” Discuss with the person next to you what you think this means and then raise your hand to share with the class.

Answer-The firemen and people that governed Menasha's money had a delicious feast at a restaurant the evening they received the new fire truck.

Independent Practice

Read the “Went Up in Smoke” and see if you can use clues to understand the phrases that are highlighted. Write down what you think each highlighted phrase means.

  1. “the origin of the fire is a mystery”- Answer-they don't know how the fire started
  2. “incredible rapidity” Answer-unbelievably fast
  3. “a roaring Hades of flame that baffled every effort of the department to extinguish” Answer- the fire was extremely loud and hot, it was difficult for the firefighters to put it out.
  4. “it began to look as if nearly all of Upper Main street was doomed” Answer-the fire was spreading and it did not look like the firefighters were going to be able to stop the fire from destroying half of Main Street .
  5. “the progress of the devouring element” Answer-the continuous movement of the overwhelming flames.

For the students who understand, but have difficulty with written communication -they could draw pictures of what they understand the phrases to mean.

For the students who do understand and finish quickly- Use one of the highlighted phrases as a story starter for your own article.

Share Time

This can be done in the classroom or the lab. Have students share their interpretations of the highlighted phrases.

Follow up activity-When you return to the room students could draw a picture to go with the article (visualization).

Note to teachers- Main Street Through the Years has lessons that would directly correlate to the activities you have just done.


Activity 3--- I Spy a Simple Machine in Fire Protection Photographs

Background Information for Teachers

In this section you'll see 5 pictures from the past that have simple machines in them. After teaching your science unit on simple machines see if students can find all the simple machines in these pictures. The 6 simple machines are the lever, wedge, incline plane, screw, pulley, and wheel and axle


Classroom- notebook and pencil

Computer lab- notebook and a pencil.

Model the process

In classroom you might say something like, “I spy a wheel and axle in the front of the room.” Then give students time to write down in their notebook what they think you are spied. Call on someone to give you their answer after allowing some think time. You might have been referring to the doorknob if they give you the correct answer it is their turn, if they give you another wheel and axle say good job but that is not what I spied.

Guided Practice

Using the image 1.5 show students how to click on the picture to enlarge it then ask if anyone can spy a simple machine. Hopefully someone will raise their hand and say the cars have wheels and axles .

Independent Practice

Using pictures 1, 2, 3, 4, and 9 see how many simple machines you can spy. Write down the number of the picture you are looking at, the name of the simple machine and exactly where you see it on the picture.

Share Time

As students finish has them share their findings with another student. When everyone is finished project the pictures on lab screen and have various student share the simple machines that have found by actually going up to the screen and saying I spied an incline plane on the fire truck, the ladder.

You may also want to talk about how modern machines have improved fire safety.



Author: Mary Doverspike, Geegan Elementary

May, 2007