Gather the kids in group and explain to them that when someone drowns while swimming, it’s a silent process. People are too busy trying to breathe in a breath to shout out, and if they do breathe in a breath, that’s usually about all they have time for.
Invite the kids to come to the front of the class and give their own silent rendition of drowning, the way a mime would. You’ll no doubt get some silly, over-the-top versions, but that’s okay. Use this time to talk about why it’s so important to call for help if you see anything unusual.
The drowning mimes game
After you’ve had a number of kids come to the front of the class, try a group miming experiment. Have the kids stand up and close their eyes and explain that everyone is to mime swimming or playing in the water, UNLESS the teacher taps you on the head. If he/she taps you on the head, then you’re to mime struggling and drowning.
On your mark, have kids open their eyes and mime, while also looking around to try and see if they can spot the child who is drowning. If they do, they are to shout: “Teacher! I think __________ might need help!” If they’re right, rush in, pull the drowning child out by under the arms, lay them across a clean table, and start shaking them while shouting, “Jessie! Are you okay? Jessie, can you hear me?” or administering pretend first aid. Let the other kids join in to help shout or “revive” the child while talking to them about the importance of spotting drowning victims quickly so that they can be revived. Then go back and play another round, choosing a different drowning victim. Get theatrical and have some fun with it, and the kids will be begging to play this game again in the future.