Week 7 and 8: Natural Disasters

Over these two weeks we looked at natural disasters and how this topic could be taught to a primary class. I really enjoyed this topic as it was very interesting and there was lots of activities that could be used to incorporate it into teaching. I think its important to teach children about natural disasters as it is real life. Halacha (2012) states “Disasters take children beyond their immediate surroundings and into the wider world” meaning although in Scotland we are lucky to not be effected children still need to be aware of what is happening in the world, however we have to be careful of what we show the children depending on the age group.

In the lecture we learnt what natural disasters were. They are a sudden event that seriously disrupts a community and causes human material, and economic or environmental losses that exceed the communities ability to cope using its own resources (Red Cross Foundation, 2019). In a classroom I may use a video like this to help children have a better understanding of disasters:


I was in the science lab for the first workshop this week and we got to carry out different science experiments to demonstrate natural disasters like volcanos. My favourite, and one that I would use in a classroom as it is easy to prepare and resources are easily available was the volcano eruption. We put fairy liquid and water into a beaker and added food colouring (to demonstrate lava) and the poured in vinegar and baking soda which caused a reaction like a volcano erupting. There was also a task that involved chipping away at rocks, however I wouldn’t use this in a classroom for safety reasons as I wouldn’t want to give pupils dangerous tools. I enjoyed these activities in this workshop as it showed me that although disasters is a serious topic to teach it can also be fun and interesting for the pupils.

The 2nd workshop was looking at the more political side of natural disasters. We looked at what countries do to prepare, respond and recover from disasters as well as looking at some case studies. One of the activities that we completed was a tree diagram, so the trunk was the issue i.e. earthquake, the roots were the causes, the branches were the impact and the apples on the branches were solutions. I found this activity really fun as it made me think more in depth but we got to lay it out in a fun way and I would use this in a classroom as it more engaging that just writing lists or bullet points for each heading. We then looked at the case study on Hurricane Mathew and the impact it had on two countries, Florida and Haiti. These two videos that I have linked below show the difference between richer and poorer countries when affected by natural disasters. Florida had the media outlets to warn people of what was going to happen to allow time to prepare as well as having stronger infrastructures and the money to be able to recover faster in the aftermath whereas Haiti (one of the poorest countries in the world) did not have the resources to be able to warn people, and the buildings and homes weren’t strong or structured well enough to cope with the impact, leaving thousands without homes. They also didn’t have the government funding to be able to recover quickly afterwards which meant aid agencies such as the British Red Cross had to help in the recovery process through donations from all over the world. I enjoyed this task as it gave me a better understanding on the economic influence on natural disasters that I didn’t really have before and this would definitely be a task that I would use in a class but I would be aware of what videos I showed the pupils so that they weren’t frightened.

  • https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-latin-america-37554065/how-haitians-have-been-evacuated-from-hurricane-matthew
  • https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-us-canada-37576996/hurricane-matthew-leaves-at-least-283-dead-in-haiti


For the 2nd week of the natural disasters topic we had to do a presentation to the rest of the class, in groups of 6/7, on a specific type of disaster that we had been given the week before. My group had earthquakes as our topic. We spoke about what an earthquake is, what causes them, what impact they can have and how people recover from them. We discussed how we would teach earthquakes to a class and activities we would use such as having the children in groups and giving them a case study each and they create a fact file to share with the rest of the class. I really enjoyed listening to all the other groups as it gave me a much better understanding of each type of disaster and different ways to teach it and now I feel comfortable with teaching this to a class in the future, whereas before I would have been nervous as I wouldn’t have known how to approach such a sensitive topic. A video we used in our earthquake presentation was:

Natural disasters could be used in the experiences and outcomes (Education Scotland, 2017):
I can describe the physical processes of a natural disaster and discuss its impact on people and the landscape.
SOC 2-07b
I have contributed to discussions of current scientific news items to help develop my awareness of science. SCN 1-20a
The impact on people and landscapes links in to the workshop with Louise where we discussed the political and economic side of natural disasters and the E and O on scientific news can be used as disasters are something that are happening all around the world and children will be able to research and discuss what events are happening just now.

Again, I really enjoyed learning about natural disasters and have developed a much better understanding on the topic along with the consequences of the disasters and the organisations that can help in the aftermath, that I didn’t have before. I enjoyed learning about different activities that can be used with children when teaching to make lessons enjoyable. There was lots of videos available online that could also be used in a class as I find that children are a lot more engaged when watching a video that contains images. Through this module I have improved my knowledge which is a UWS Graduate Attribute (UWS, 2018). I am looking forward to teaching this topic in the future now that I have a better understanding of the best way to teach it to children, and in a way that will keep them engaged.


Education Scotland (2017) Curriculum For Excellence: Experiences and Outcomes [Online] Available:https://education.gov.scot/Documents/All-experiencesoutcomes18.pdf [Accessed: 25th of October 2019]

University of the West of Scotland (2018) UWS Graduate Attributes [Online] Available: https://www.uws.ac.uk/current-students/your-graduate-attributes/ [Accessed: 25th October 2019]

Halacha. J (2012) The Primary Teacher’s Guide to Geography. Witney: Scholastic.


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