Natural Disasters Topic Guide for Teachers

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!

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Teaching Ideas | Resources | Facts | Videos | Books | Links

Teaching Ideas



The Natural Disasters Pack

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

Thunderstorm 101

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


The Firework-Maker's Daughter
Lila heads off to the volcano, on her quest to become a fire-work maker. ture
Zoe lives in a future England, covered by water. She finds a boat and sets off in search of her parents.
In this thrilling adventure Ashely and Ryan are hit by an avalanche when skiing with their parents.
Going to the Volcano
Younger children will love this rhyming story of a trip to a volcano.
Earthquakes and Tsunamis
This bright and engaging book is full of information about earthquakes and tsunamis.
The Ultimate Book of Planet Earth
This pop-up book will encourage children to expore our planet!

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