Natural Disaster Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Danielle Wilson

Danielle is a certified elementary, middle school math, and special education teacher. She has a master's degree in elementary education and special education.

Has your TV ever said to you, 'This is a test', followed by a long beep? This is the TV Emergency Alert System. Most of the time it's just a test, but the TV Emergency Alert System is used to warn people of dangerous weather. This article will teach you about these sudden weather events known as 'natural disasters'.

What's a natural disaster?

The Wizard of Oz
Wizard of Oz

One of the best musicals of all time is The Wizard of Oz. In the story, Dorothy is taken away by a big cyclonic (spinning) storm called a tornado. When Dorothy awakens, she's in the land of Oz. A tornado is a strong, powerful type of storm, and although it wouldn't take us to Oz, it can cause a lot of damage. A tornado is a type of event that we call a natural disaster.

A natural disaster is an unexpected, severe weather event that negatively impacts the way people live and their environment. When a natural disaster strikes, people are in danger and communities can be destroyed. Natural disasters come in all shapes and forms, and can involve land, water, or the sky. No one is 100% safe from natural disasters, but there are some that are more likely in different regions of our planet than others. For instance, California is very prone to earthquakes and the Pacific Islands are prone to tsunamis.

Types of Natural Disasters


Tornadoes are large, funnel-like clouds that touch the ground and spin very fast. As they move across the land, they take everything with them. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy lived in the state of Kansas with her aunt and uncle. Kansas and other states of the Midwestern region are prone to tornadoes.


In areas near big bodies of water, like Hawaii or Florida, there is another spinning storm called a hurricane. Hurricanes don't touch ground like tornadoes do; hurricanes are clouds made up of high speed winds and rain. Did you know that the highest recorded wind speed for a hurricane was more than 186 mph? That's three times as fast as a cheetah! Hurricanes often cause a lot of flooding and destruction.

Japan tsunami
Japan Tsunami 2011

A tsunami is a huge wave that comes crashing into land, destroying everything in its path. The largest recorded tsunami reached 100 feet into the air! Tsunamis are often caused by earthquakes under the sea floor. The most devastating tsunami was the Sumatra tsunami of 2004, which killed over 230,000 people.

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