1. Have students discuss their experiences with and feelings about extreme natural events.
Remind students that an extreme natural event becomes a natural disaster when it happens where people live. Ask students if they have ever experienced the type of extreme natural event that's most common in your area. Have students share their experiences and feelings. Ask:

  • What was it like?
  • How did you and your family protect yourselves?

Explain to students that the more prepared you are for extreme natural events or natural disasters, the less you need to worry about them. Ask: Which of your families have an emergency plan? Which of your families have an emergency supply kit? Invite volunteers to share details about their family emergency plans or some of the items in their emergency supply kits.

2. Discuss safety and preparation tips
Show students the FEMA for Kids: Know the Facts web page. Click on the extreme natural event that’s most common in your area and read aloud the information for students. On the board, list some of the key safety and preparation tips you find or think of, such as where to take shelter or what to do if you are separated from family members.

3. Have students create natural disaster preparation and safety signs.
Divide the class into small groups. Assign each group one of the safety tips you've read and listed. Give each group a piece of posterboard or large pieces of paper and ask them to create signs to educate other students and adults about the importance of disaster preparation and their assigned safety tip. If possible, have groups return to the website to help them create their signs. Then have each group share their sign with the class. Post the signs in the classroom or hallway.

Extending the Learning

  • If time allows, have students read about the other extreme natural events on the Know the Facts web page. Then ask each student to draw or sketch a first-person account of one of the extreme natural events.
  • As a class, brainstorm a brief list of activities to lend a hand after a natural disaster, such as: donating or collecting clothes, food, or other items; organizing a fundraiser of community event; or helping families clean up. Ask: Which of these would you do if a natural disaster happened?

Subjects & Disciplines

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • describe feelings about extreme natural events
  • explain safety and preparation tips for extreme natural events

Teaching Approach

  • Learning-for-use

Teaching Methods

  • Discussions
  • Hands-on learning

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

National Council for Social Studies Curriculum Standards

  • Theme 3:  People, Places, and Environments

National Geography Standards

  • Standard 15:  How physical systems affect human systems

National Science Education Standards

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Colored pencils
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Poster board

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per small group

Physical Space

  • Classroom


  • Small-group instruction

Background Information

Every person and family needs to plan for what might happen during an extreme natural event or natural disaster. It’s important to know how to stay safe when the unexpected happens.

Prior Knowledge

  • extreme natural events


extreme natural event

short-term changes in the weather or environment that can have long-term effects, like a storm or earthquake.

natural disaster

an event occurring naturally that has large-scale effects on the environment and people, such as a volcano, earthquake, or hurricane.