Natural disasters, such as earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, are events that cause disruption, damage or loss of life, which cannot be stopped. They occur naturally, usually as a result of either tectonic plate activity or weather conditions.
While natural disasters cannot be prevented, steps can be taken to minimise their impact. For example, in earthquake-prone areas of the world, buildings can be designed to withstand the shaking of an earthquake.
Teach your children about natural disasters using our handy topic guide!
- Challenge children to put our Volcanic Eruptions Sequencing cards in the correct order.
- Ask children to write a newspaper report about a natural disaster.
- Consolidate knowledge about different types of natural disaster with these dominoes.
- Use the information on this site to explain the tectonic plate model.
- Create an earthquake wave box from everyday objects to show how earthquakes travel.
- Use this case study of the Somerset floods of 2014 from the Geographical Association to investigate the causes and effects of flooding, along with some possible solutions.
- Demonstrate how lightning is formed using aluminum tins and polystyrene cups.
- Older children will enjoy this challenging avalanche investigation from NRICH, using readily available resources.
- Our Natural Disasters Pack contains a topic guide as well as a variety of resources and display materials.
- Choose one of our banners for your display board; Natural Disasters, Violent Volcanoes, Hurricanes, Volcanoes, Lightning, Wildfires, Avalanches, Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Floods, Tsunamis or Active Planet.
- Use our Natural Disaster themed letters in your displays.
- Develop volcano vocabulary with our handy mat.
- This PDF from Dynamic Earth contains resources for teaching about the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE, and earthquakes.
Natural Disaster Facts
- A natural disaster is a devastating event, such as a flood or volcanic eruption, that has an impact on people.
- The largest ever volcanic eruption took place on the 10th of April 1815. Mount Tambora, in Indonesia, sent out a plume of smoke and ash about 50km (30 miles) into the Earth’s atmosphere. The following year, 1816, was known as “The Year without a Summer” because the global temperature dropped due to the volcanic debris in the atmosphere.
- Almost all earthquakes, and about 3/4 of all volcanoes, occur within the “Ring of Fire”. This area around the Pacific Ocean is where many of the Earth’s tectonic plates meet.
- The strength of an earthquake is measured on the Richter Scale, devised by Charles F. Richter. It allows earthquakes to be compared with each other. Earthquakes measuring over 7.0 on the scale cause severe damage and loss of life.
- Tornadoes are rotating, funnel-shaped clouds that form during thunderstorms.
Disaster Strikes: Different Disasters
This video from Christian Aid explains some different types of disaster (drought, storm, hurrican, earthquake, flood and tsunami) and looks at what can be done to help people affected by them.
Running time: 5:59
This short video from National Geographic explains how thunderstorms develop.
Running time: 3:36
What Causes Avalanches
Maddie Moate explains how Avalances are triggered.
Running time: 2:53
Are you teaching your children about other topics? Explore our full collection of guides!