A geography classroom is a good place for a lesson plan on natural disasters. Design a natural disasters unit study for a multidisciplinary approach.
Natural disasters are an exciting topic for kids to learn about. Earthquakes, volcanoes, avalanches, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters are dangerous and mysterious to students. Incorporate other subjects into the unit study so that the lesson plans are well-rounded, relevant, and interesting.
There are numerous types of natural disasters including tsunamis, monsoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, thunderstorms, avalanches, blizzards, wildfires, and droughts. The study of natural disasters gives students the opportunity to learn many of the national geography standards while still having fun in the learning process.
The following steps are a natural progression for making a lesson plan for studying natural disasters: learning objectives, learning tools for the lesson, appropriate activities and projects, and assessment.
Objectives for Lesson Plan on Natural Disasters
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Begin planning the unit study on natural disasters by deciding on the learning goals. The National Council for Geographic Education has developed a list of suggested standards in the field of geography.
Teachers who are clear on the learning objectives before creating a lesson plan tend to create unit studies that are well-rounded and relevant. Decide on the main focus: geography, science, or literature, for example. Then, drill down the standards which the students will be taught.
Suggested Reading, Teacher Supplies and Learning Tools for a Lesson Plan on Natural Disasters
Use lots of maps in this lesson plan. Natural disasters occur all over the world, and extreme weather tends to cluster in regions. There are lots of different types of maps available, so try and stick to the classroom budget.
See an extensive recommended reading list for natural disasters unit study to create a well-rounded lesson plan that includes literature, history, math, science, statistics, rescue mission, and nature adventure.
Use worksheets, puzzles, movies, documentary DVD’s, and games in the geography classroom to learn about natural disasters. Invite a University professor or graduate student in meteorology to give a presentation to the class to give students the opportunity to ask questions in person.
Geography games are fun for students. Trivia games are especially helpful because they break down the information into manageable bits which make it easier for students to study. Geography trivia games make learning enjoyable, and friendly competition can be a great motivator. If the classroom is on a tight budget, then make your own geography trivia game for natural disasters.
Activities for Geography Lesson Plan on U.S. National Parks
When designing assignments, consider the materials are chosen, as well as the learning objectives for the lesson plan. For example, when using the National Council for Geographic Education standard 7, “The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth’s surface,” then an assignment might be a poster montage that shows the geologic processes of a volcano.
The activities will depend on the materials chosen for the lesson plan, as well. For example, if using a book on wildfires, assign an interview with the local fireman or department of natural resources employee.
Other appropriate activities for the lesson plan might include popular movies such as Twister, or educational DVDs about any of the natural disasters. Students could be asked to identify regions of natural disasters on maps or play competitive geography trivia games. Science projects such as building a volcano or creating a survival kit are also appropriate for the classroom.
Assessment & Quizzes for Natural Disasters Lesson Plan
Written tests are a traditional form of assessment of students’ understanding of the material studied. The questions should come from the materials used and should be relevant to the big picture of natural disasters.
For a more informal assessment method, watch the students participate in a geography trivia game that they co-created on the unit study. Judge their knowledge and comprehension of natural disasters based on close observation. Participation and effort in the game could determine students’ final grades, regardless of winning or losing.
When creating a lesson plan for natural disasters or for any physical geography subject, plan first by deciding on the learning objectives and on the resources that will be used. Assignments, activities, and projects should all be designed around those choices. As the lesson plan unfolds during implementation, it should be clear what method of assessment is most appropriate to test the students’ knowledge of natural disasters.
Recommended Book List for Lesson Plan on Natural Disasters Unit
Here are book lists for teaching a unit study about natural disasters. Read about rescue missions, survival stories, statistics, history, and weather science.
An in-depth study of natural disasters includes more than just learning about extreme weather. A unit study on natural disasters includes other subjects such as history, global warming, environmentalism, literature, writing, math, and science.
Let the learning objectives guide book decisions for the lesson plan on natural disasters. Then, design activities, projects, and assignments to revolve around the book choices. Find suggested benchmarks for learning about geography on the National Council for Geographic Education’s web page.
Reading Suggestions for Books on History of Natural Disasters
Here are book suggestions that will help students understand the history and impact of natural disasters.
- Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 (Winchester, Simon. 2003)
- Disaster!: A History of Earthquakes, Floods, Plagues, and Other Catastrophes (Withington, John. 2010)
- Dangerous Planet: Natural Disasters That Changed History (Barnard, Bryn. 2003) Grades 5 – 9.
- The End is Nigh: A History of Natural Disasters (Svensen, Henrik. 2009)
Suggested Reading for Natural Disaster Rescue Missions and Survival Stories
Incorporate literature into the geography curriculum with exciting novels about nature rescue missions for natural disasters and true survival stories. Here are book suggestions for inspiring novels and exciting rescue mission stories.
- In the Path of an Avalanche: A True Story (Bowers, Vivien. 2003)
- Home of the Blizzard: A True Story of Antarctic Survival (Mawson, Sir Douglas. 2000)
- Death, Daring, & Disaster – Search and Rescue in the National Parks (Farabee, Charles R. “Butch,” Jr. 2005)
- Blazing Heritage: A History of Wildland Fire in the National Parks (Rothman, Hal K. 2007)
Books on Geology, Science, and Forces of Nature of Natural Disasters
Here are book recommendations for learning about the science of natural disasters.
- Extreme Weather: Understanding the Science of Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Floods, Heat Waves, Snow Storms, Global Warming and Other Atmospheric Disturbances (Mogil, H. Michael. 2007)
- When the Planet Rages: Natural Disasters, Global Warming and the Future of the Earth (Officer, Charles and Jake Page. 2009)
Books With Statistics and Mathematics About Natural Disasters
This list of books has a math approach or statistics approach to natural disasters.
- Extreme Weather: A Guide and Record Book (Burt, Christopher C. 2007)
- The Mathematics of Natural Catastrophes (Woo, Gordon. 1999)
- The Science of Disasters (Bunde, Armin et al. 2002)
Elementary School Reading Suggestions for Books on Natural Disasters
Here is a brief list of recommended books on natural disasters for lower elementary school readers:
- Blitzed by a Blizzard! (Disaster Survivors) (Markovics, Joyce. 2010). Ages 9 – 12.
- Maxx Trax: Avalanche Rescue! (Preller, James. 1986). Ages 9 – 12.
- Blizzard!: A Survive! Story (Impact Books) (Maddox, Jake. 2009) Ages 9 – 12.
These reading resources for geography teachers and homeschoolers provide alternatives to geography textbooks. Enhance students’ learning and appreciation for the forces of nature, history, science, and geology of natural disasters. Introduce multiple disciplines into the geography lesson plan on natural disasters with novels, history books, and documentaries on natural disasters all over the world.
Create writing assignments, vocabulary lists, spelling words, creative geography art projects, science projects, and exploration of maps from the book choices for the lesson plan on natural disasters. Geography teachers can also use different types of maps, geography games, pictures, and worksheets.
Grades 5-8 Standards-Based Lesson Plans (Pathways in Geography) (Bock, Judith K. 2004)
Buy multiple books in small quantities online at booksellers’ websites such as Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble online. Or, consider buying used books in good condition. Check the editorial reviews, reader reviews, ratings, and age appropriateness before buying books online.