Talking to Kids About Natural Disasters
Talk to kids about natural disasters.
Media coverage can be scary for children. News broadcasters rarely hold back when showing photos of devastation and death. Use this opportunity to discuss ways to help those in need in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Inform children of various disaster relief agencies such as the Red Cross, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), and localized state agencies. The state of Georgia has GEMA (Georgia Emergency Management Agency). Also educate children about other organizations who help people after such tragedies, such as churches and Habitat for Humanity. Children will probably feel better if they know many people pull together to help out those in need.
The more kids know about natural disasters, the better they handle them. Teach children about the different types of natural disasters. Children who do not live in areas prone to tornadoes or hurricanes might not know the difference between the two. Develop your vocabulary lessons around the following terms:
Teach Kids to Be Prepared
Ready.Gov/Kids outlines a great way to help children learn to prepare for the possibility of a natural disaster in four steps:
Step One: Know the Facts. Children can click on different tabs to learn about different types of natural disasters. They will also learn the difference between a weather “watch” and a weather “warning.”
Step Two: Make a Plan. Children get access to a great print-out where they can sit with their families and develop a plan. The print-out provides spaces for personal contact information and even family social security numbers. The information on the sheet provides emergency responders with the information needed to locate family members and reunite them in case of separation. In Step Two, children can also access games and activities to enhance their learning experience.
Note: The family emergency plan contains space for personal, sensitive information. Children should learn to protect information and keep sensitive information out of the hands of identity thieves.
Step Three: Build a Kit. Children can print out a supply list recommended by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). They can play a fun online matching game to help them remember important emergency supplies. Children can print off a scavenger hunt game. The entire family can participate in the hunt which helps families gather needed supplies for the emergency kit.
Step Four: Graduate from Readiness U. When children complete steps one, two, and three, they have helped their families prepare for a natural disaster. They are ready to graduate from FEMA’s Readiness University. Children must take a quiz to test their knowledge. Once children get all the answers correct, they may print out a Readiness U Graduation Certificate.
Online ResourcesOn March 11, 2011, Japan suffered a tsunami. KidScoop.Com offers free downloads which help kids learn more about such disasters. You can download “newspapers” and learning packets which include word games and puzzles. The site also offers information about how to measure earthquakes and how tsunamis form.
Science.pppst.com is another great resource for teaching kids about natural disasters. Parents and teachers can access free presentations in PowerPoint format. The PowerPoint presentations include the following titles: Natural Hazards, Perfect Disasters, Weather Hazards, Environmental Disasters, Teaching About Natural Hazards, Natural Hazard Images, Floods, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Thunder and Lightening, Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Avalanches, Snow Avalanches, Icebergs, Volcanoes, Mass Wasting (Landslides, Erosion, and More), Weather, Safety, Fire Safety. Kids links include: Natural Hazards Games for Kids and FLASH Presentations Natural Hazards. Teacher links include: Lots of Lessons – Natural Hazards, Free Video Clip/Mini Movies for Kids, Free Online Science Games for Kids and Free Clip-art.
Federal Resources for Educational Excellence provides parents and teachers with a list of resources and websites for teaching kids about natural disasters. Available website links include: The Earthquake Hazards Program, Geologic Information, Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire (1897 – 1916), Quake – 1906 San Francisco Quake, Geology at the US Geological Survey, Disasters, TeachingHistory.Org, Tsunamis and Earthquakes, Run for Your Lives! The Johnstown Flood of 1889, Nature’s Fury, 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, and Emergency Planning for Schools.
ReadWriteThink offers a complete lesson plan for Exploring Cause and Effect Using Expository Texts About Natural Disasters. Teachers click on tabs across the top of the page to access a lesson preview which includes the following sections: Overview, Featured Resources, and From Theory to Practice. The Standards tab helps teachers align the lesson with state standards. Teachers can use a drop-down tab to align the lesson with a specific state’s standards. The third tab, Resources and Preparation, provides a list of needed materials, print-outs, and specific steps for preparation. The next tab provides student objectives, specific steps for carrying out the lesson, and suggestions for assessment. The next tab lists related resources and the last tab provides teachers with a chance to leave comments about the lesson.