1. Activate students' prior knowledge about extreme natural events.
Ask: What do you already know about extreme natural events? Have students brainstorm a list of extreme natural events around the world, such as:
- flooding or drought
- snowstorms or blizzards
- severe thunderstorms, hail
Ask: What type is most likely to happen in our area? Then look at the photo gallery of extreme natural events. As you look at each photo, ask students if they or their families have ever experienced any of these conditions. Invite volunteers to share their experiences. Ask: How did you protect yourself? How do you think you could have been better prepared?
2. Have pairs write descriptions of extreme natural events.
Divide students into pairs. Show students photographs of natural disasters on the National Geographic Natural Disasters web page. For each image, ask pairs to write two captions to describe the event the image shows. Have pairs share their captions as you look at each photo as a class. As you look at each photo, ask:
- What makes this event "extreme"?
- What could be dangerous about this event?
3. Discuss how extreme natural events are the same and different.
After students have looked at all of the photos, ask:
- How are some of the events the same?
- How are some of the events different?
For example, students may point out that hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms all have strong winds and snowstorms. Avalanches and blizzards both have snow. Ask: Which extreme natural event do you think is most dangerous? Why?
Subjects & Disciplines
- Earth science
- discuss types of extreme natural events
- compare characteristics of extreme natural events
- Multimedia instruction
National Standards, Principles, and Practices
National Council for Social Studies Curriculum Standards
- Theme 3: People, Places, and Environments
National Geography Standards
- Standard 7: The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface
National Science Education Standards
- (K-4) Standard F-4: Changes in environments
What You’ll Need
Materials You Provide
The resources are also available at the top of the page.
- Internet Access: Required
- Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, Projector
- Large-group instruction
Extreme natural events like hurricanes, floods, and wildfires can cause damage and harm to people, animals, and environments. Humans are better able to prepare for and recover from extreme natural events if they understand the dangers.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry extreme natural event Noun
short-term changes in the weather or environment that can have long-term effects, like a storm or earthquake.
natural disaster Noun
an event occurring naturally that has large-scale effects on the environment and people, such as a volcano, earthquake, or hurricane.
For Further Exploration