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Tornado Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Teach your students about tornadoes with this Study.com lesson plan. Students learn how tornadoes are formed and how to classify them, then create their own mini-tornadoes.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define key terms
  • explain how tornadoes are formed
  • classify tornadoes

Length:

1 hour

Materials

  • Small balls
  • Map of the United States
  • Copies or a visual of the Enhanced Fujita Scale
  • Plastic bottles or jars (students can bring from home, but you may need some on-hand just in case)
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Dish soap
  • Small objects (such as tiny balls of aluminum foil)

Key Vocabulary

  • Tornado
  • Updraft
  • Downdraft
  • Enhanced Fujita Scale

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.2

Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.3

Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.4

Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.

Instructions

  • For homework before the lesson, ask students to bring in clear plastic water bottles or jars (with lids) to use in the experiment.
  • Engage students and connect to learning by having them answer the prompt 'Tornadoes make me think of...' in their science notebooks.
  • Share and discuss answers. Tell students they will be learning about tornadoes. Preview and teach vocabulary words.
  • Show our lesson plan What Are Tornadoes? - Definition, Causes & The Enhanced Fujita Scale. Allow students to take notes if desired.
  • Pause at 2:32 and ensure student understanding. Discuss:
    • How do tornadoes form?
    • How are storm cells formed?
    • What causes a tornado to fall?
  • Allow students to use the balls as described in the lesson to recreate the movement of tornadoes.
  • Resume the video. Pause at 3:29 and show students areas of the map mentioned in the 'Where Do Tornadoes Occur' section. Discuss why tornadoes happen in these areas.
  • Continue playing the video. As you play the section 'The Enhanced Fujita Scale,' allow students to view the scale.
  • Pause at 4:38: Ask:
    • Why did scientists make the EF scale?
    • Where did the scale get its name?
    • What classifications are used in the scale?
  • Play the lesson summary and allow students to record pertinent information. Check for student understanding.

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