The Pillowcase Project

Help children understand, cope with and respond to weather-related emergencies that could happen in their community.

A drawing showing the kinds of things a British Red Cross virtual gift can buy - clean water, a sleeping bag and a first aid kit.
Teaching package, images, videos
Geography, PSHE
Disasters and emergencies

In this emergency preparedness resource, children will learn about weather emergencies and how they can affect people. They'll also develop and practise coping skills and have the option to decorate an emergency “grab bag” pillowcase, with the items they would want in an emergency. They then take the pillowcase home with them to share their learning with their family.

Activities include films, worksheets, photographs, role-play and scenario cards, signs, presentations, factsheets, checklists and emergency planning documents to take home. Children will also gain skills such as: communication, decision making, problem solving and creative and critical thinking.

Geographical Association Silver Award

 “The Pillowcase Project is a great way to get children thinking about what they would do if they were affected by severe weather, so they can be prepared for its potential impacts."
Derrick Ryall, head of public weather service at the Met Office


“No one can predict what’s around the corner, which is why emergency preparedness education is particularly important. The Pillowcase Project provides important preparedness tools, helping children around the UK understand what emergencies might affect them, as well as learning key skills to help them to cope and safely respond if an emergency happens.”

Simon Lewis, head of UK emergency planning and response at the British Red Cross


Learning objectives

Learners will:

  • learn about the types of weather emergencies they might face in the UK
  • discuss how to prepare for an emergency
  • practise how to safely respond to and cope in an emergency
  • share what they have learned with their friends and family to increase community resilience.


Resource overview


1. Introduction and warm-ups

Introduce the Pillowcase Project, the Red Cross and weather emergencies.

2. Weather emergencies

Learn about these weather emergencies, why they happen and the effect they have on people.

Weather emergencies covered include:

  • flooding
  • thunderstorms
  • winter weather
  • heatwaves.

There is also a fact sheet on travel preparedness.

3. Coping skills

Interactive coping skills for children to feel calmer when faced with an emergency, and discussions about how they could use these skills in other settings.


4. Apply what children have learned about weather emergencies and coping skills through active learning activities.


5. Children share what they have learned at school with friends and family through activities, such as the option to create and decorate an emergency grab bag (pillowcase), creating displays and taking emergency preparedness information and communication plans home to complete with their families.


Image © Tim Mossford (UNP)/BRC.