This page contains content from the Xpeditions website, which is now archived. The National Geographic Education website, natgeoed.org, includes some of our most popular archival content in its original format.

Warning Label

Please note: We are no longer updating the content on archived pages. Archived content may contain dated information and broken links.

Grades 3-5
Overview:
This lesson provides an introduction to some natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes . Students will read about and view pictures of these phenomena and will create posters or a mural depicting the things they have seen.
Connections to the Curriculum:
Geography, science
Connections to the National Geography Standards:
Standard 1: "How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective"
Standard 7: "The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface"
Time:
Two to three hours

Materials Required:
  • Computer with Internet access
  • Weather map from newspaper
  • Poster or construction paper
  • Markers or crayons
  • Blank Xpeditions outline maps of the United States , one for each student
Objectives:
Students will
  • describe the natural disasters they are familiar with;
  • read about and view pictures of some natural disasters, and take notes on what they see; and
  • create posters or a class mural depicting the natural disasters they have learned about.
Geographic Skills:

Organizing Geographic Information
Analyzing Geographic Information

S u g g e s t e d   P r o c e d u r e
Opening:
Use the disaster descriptions from the "disaster dossier" in the Stormy Stories activity to give students a brief overview of each disaster included. As you read the descriptions, or immediately afterwards, have students look at pictures of these disasters in books, magazines, or on the Web. Some Web sites with pictures are:

National Geographic: Fallout—Eye on the Volcano
National Geographic: Nature's Fury
Hurricanes: Online Meteorology Guide
Volcano World

Have students create posters or a class mural titled "The Active Earth." The posters should contain illustrations of the types of weather and geological events that students have seen in the pictures. Advanced students can include a map showing where these disasters are most likely to occur, or mapping the locations of the four disasters depicted in the Stormy Stories Activity.

Read to the class the descriptions from the "jumbled files," in the Stormy Stories Activity and have students guess which of the disasters on their posters or mural is described in each segment. They can check their answers at the jumbled files answer key. Discuss what it might be like to experience one of these disasters.

Ask the class if they know which of these events are most likely to occur in their area. Explain the risk for these events, and provide them with safety information that they can share with their families.

Development:
Show the class the weather map in today's newspaper, and point out the way in which the map depicts the weather around the country. Ask students how they would make the map even more interesting. Would they draw a weather map with pictures or symbols showing what the weather looks like? Ask students to draw some pictures they would like to see on a weather map, depicting such weather conditions as sunshine, clouds, rain, snow, and thunderstorms.

Give each student a blank outline map of the United States . Have younger students (second through third grade) draw pictures of today's weather in different parts of the country, based on what you tell them from the weather map. You can write the directions on the board and the weather next to each direction (e.g., West-sunny; Northeast-thunderstorms), or you can point out regions of the country on a class wall map as you tell the class what the weather is like in those places.

Have older students (grades four and five) use the newspaper weather map or the Internet (they can try the Weather Channel, from the list of links below) to find out the weather for several cities (try Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, Chicago, Boston, Washington, DC, and Miami).

Students should find out the temperatures and precipitation conditions, label the cities on their maps, and place the symbols and temperatures onto the map next to the appropriate cities. Tell students that they can keep an eye on weather conditions in these cities using weather cams, which they can link to from the list below.

Closing:
Conclude with a discussion of the reasons why weather maps can be useful. Ask students to think of all the reasons why people might like to have weather maps and to discuss times when they or their families have benefited from the use of a weather map.
Suggested Student Assessment:
Have students create posters or a class mural entitled "The Active Earth." The posters should contain illustrations of the types of weather and geological events that students have seen in the pictures. Advanced students can include a map showing where these disasters are most likely to occur, or mapping the locations of the four disasters depicted in the Stormy Stories activity.
Related Links: