With this severe, active, hurricane season underway, here are some ideas to make areas of the topic more relevant to your children. There are also suggestions for dealing with the aftermath of a catastrophic hurricane. If you are in an area that experiences other natural phenomena, just adapt these suggestions to fit your needs.
1. Have children express their feelings. Youngsters will be able to draw pictures and dictate sentences, while older children will be able to illustrate their own stories. With everyone participating, this will draw out your shy, timid children who may not want to take part in a verbal discussion.
2. Make a bound book of the class’ experiences and keep it in the class library. Perhaps you can have students ‘rent’ it for a night to share with their families.
3. If you do not have Pen Pals, why not try to find a class in another part of the country or world that has not experienced a hurricane. Your pupils will then become teachers as they explain what happened.
4. Instead of writing, your class could make a cassette or videotape. If sending it to Pen Pals, make sure you check on the privacy policies in your school.
5. Use children’s experiences to have lessons on adjectives, adverbs, similes, and onomatopoeia.
6. Answer who, what, where, when, why, and how as you write the opening paragraph of a story. Do it on the overhead projector and obtain input from class members.
7. This would be a good time to teach specificity and the Voice Writing Trait. Compare these two stories and tell which is more specific and exciting:
a. Yesterday, a hurricane came to my city and caused a lot of damage. I was scared because it was loud and the water was high.
b. On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina roared into New Orleans like a lion. I felt terrified as I heard the howling wind and crashing surf; but I was petrified when the water kept rising and I had to climb through my roof to be safe. When I got up there, all I could see was water, water everywhere and rooftops of houses.
8. Have a unit on the Five Senses of Hurricane (See, Hear, Smell, Taste, and Touch). Can you smell the sweat? Do you feel hot and sticky? Have each child make his own booklet.
9. Reinforce map skills as you track a hurricane. What better way to relate latitude and longitude?! Get to know those terms for your own city. Looking at the map’s key, older children will be able to estimate how far away a hurricane is from a specific place.
10. Delve into the causes of hurricanes. Make a list of the strongest ever recorded and include their data. This will reinforce research skills and graph-making.
11. Tally how many hurricanes have occurred each year since 1960. Circle the major ones. Is there a pattern?
12. Teachers and parents, alike, will need to remember that there may be extreme anxiety during any rainstorm. If the power is still on, try to stand close to a person who has been through a horrible ordeal. Give a pat on the back or a hug, along with a reassuring word. On the other hand, if power goes out, have a flashlight handy and play games with it (follow the direction of light; spotlight a child and have him recite a poem, sing a song, or perform a silly antic). Have children all hold hands to know they are not alone. If children are old enough, keep your lessons going without reading; much can be accomplished orally! Do whatever you can to allay children’s fears.
I hope these ideas are useful and have inspired your own creative thinking.
A Survivor’s Guide to Emergency Preparedness:
How to Prepare for Hurricanes, Power Outages, Nor’easters, and Other Storm-related Emergencies
When a storm emergency threatens, it may already be too late. A storm that threatens your life, your property, and your state of mind does irreparable damage to your soul. How you prepare for a storm emergency – especially a hurricane – determines how well you survive. This book covers many check lists for individuals, families and for our beloved pets and is a must have for hurricane season.