Natural disasters are an important part of many science curricula. Students absolutely love learning about tornados, floods, and other natural disasters. But, how can you make learning about these often tragic events fun and educational? Every teacher could use a couple of tips for teaching natural disasters.
How To Teach Natural Disasters
No matter what classroom or school you are in, there is always a threat of a natural disaster of some kind within your area. Whether it is a flood, hurricane, or tornado. Children need to learn about each one and know exactly what causes them and how to be prepared. The awesome thing is curriculums, and standards often call for teachers to discuss these topics in the 4th or 5th grade. With more independence and self-ability, you can have a lot of fun while learning a very important topic. From posters to reading passages, your students will learn a ton!
Tips For Teaching Natural Disasters
There are plenty of resources in the TPT world focused on natural disasters. They are an exciting and engaging topic; kids are usually intrigued and want to learn about them. But what are some of the best ways to teach natural disasters? Here are 5 tips for teaching natural disasters to your students.
Tip #1: Use Informational Texts
Alright, here we go. Tips for teaching natural disasters!
Informational texts are often where students struggle, although many kids enjoy reading non-fiction. Comprehension can be challenging for many. Giving them high-interest non-fiction or informational texts like texts about natural disasters will not only help them learn about these disastrous events. But also work on their comprehension skills.
If you are looking for more ways to integrate literacy and science. Head over to this blog post! I discuss some great ways you can do it!
This one seems like a no-brainer, but finding enough informational texts on each natural disaster can quickly waste your prep time. Just think, there are over 6 major natural disasters: floods, hurricanes, volcanoes, tornados, earthquakes, landslides, etc. Imagine how long it will take to find a grade-level appropriate reading for each one on the internet or in your library!
Using already created 5th-grade level resources can be helpful, and Oh, look, I’ve got one for you!
This Natural Disasters resource includes so many amazing on-level information texts for your lesson plans:
- Natural Disasters Mind Map
- Hurricanes Informational Text
- Volcanoes Informational Text
- Tornadoes Informational Text
- Earthquakes Informational Text
- Wildfires Informational Text
- Floods Informational Text
- Landslides Informational Text
There are so many great informational texts available to you, but why spend the whole day looking and reading when you can easily grab over 10 different natural disaster texts right here?
Tip #2: Make It Relatable
This tip for teaching natural disasters is one of the most important tips you’ll read about. You need to make the material relatable. I always ask my students, “ are you prepared for a disaster ?” Half the time, they look at me with confused expressions, and sometimes I get the occasional “duh.” When teaching natural disasters, you want to make the activities relatable. If you live on the coast next to an ocean, relate flooding to their ocean community, or live in an area where tornados occur? Start with that natural disaster first!
Once you have learned about a few natural disasters, ask the question again, “what is your preparedness for disasters?” Most students will now understand that their parents have a hurricane kit or a wildfire bag in their car, and some may realize they are entirely unprepared.
One of my favorite natural disaster activities is having students prepare for disasters by creating an emergency contact list and an emergency preparedness plan. I’ll even have them make this plan after they have researched some different natural disasters and try to figure out exactly what they would need to do if they were near an erupting volcano or a landslide.
This resource includes everything you need to help your students figure out natural disaster preparedness.
- Emergency Preparedness Plan
- Emergency Contact List
Now when anyone asks one of your students how to prepare for an emergency. They are definitely going to know! Grab it here!
Tip #3: Use Science to Teach Literacy
Science and literacy go hand in hand, and that can make for a great cross-curricular lesson plan! Teachers are always looking for a way to incorporate reading into other curricula and science is the perfect place.
Using non-fiction texts all about natural disasters will not only help them learn more about the scientific topics you are teaching, but you can easily incorporate other important literacy skills.
Using these high interest texts about natural disasters, your students will be able to practice many skills like:
How to “Annotate the Text” or “Mark the Text”
- How to Mark the Text Bookmark
- How to Annotate the Text Bookmark
- 7 Graphic Organizers:
1. Main Ideas with Text Evidence
2. Ideas with Text Evidence
3. Central Ideas with Details
4. Main Idea with Details, Main Idea, Details, Conclusion
6. Overview: Topic, Author’s Purpose, Key Vocabulary, Most Important Thing, I wonder, Important Facts, Illustration
7. Context Clues (3 versions: 3 words, 4 words, 5 words)
These can all be found in my Natural Disasters Close Reading Activities. Remember, I have a whole blog post on how you can integrate literacy and science here!
Tip #4: Use Graphic Organizers And Discussion
One of my favorite tips for teaching natural disasters is to use graphic organizers to help your students organize the piece of each disaster. There are a lot of them, and they can get confusing quickly. Having a foldable or graphic organizer to help students learn about each disaster and keep track of what makes up each natural disaster.
Another thing I love is discussing natural disasters with my students. So many of them have stories or have seen something on the news that helps them relate to each natural disaster and gives some personal information! These foldables, graphic organizers, and discussion cards are included in my natural disasters unit activities.
Tip #5: Play A Game
The last of the tips for teaching natural disasters. Every kid loves a game. No matter what age, your students will absolutely love to review everything they learned about natural disasters through a fun board game.
This science review activity makes for a great science center, practice after a lesson, small group instruction activity, or even early finisher activity. You can also use this science game as a spiral review throughout the year. A fun test prep review, too! Your students will love completing this science board game while mastering the content standards along the way.
Tips For Teaching Natural Disasters: The Wrap-Up
When teaching natural disasters, as long as it is engaging and fun for the kids. They will love it! Bringing in some hands-on projects along with some high interest reading passages will allow you to hit on many different learning styles. These are just a few tips for teaching natural disasters and I have found they work pretty well!
Here are all of the resources mentioned in this blog post:
Natural Disasters Close Reading Activities
Natural Disasters and Severe Weather Unit
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