Close your eyes and imagine…wait, WAIT! If you close your eyes, you can’t read this. Just imagine: you are on a road trip under the big sky of Oklahoma when suddenly that sky turns dark with an eerie greenish tinge. As small bits of hail begin to bounce off the hood of the car, you spot a funnel cloud in the distance. What should you do?!
Can extreme weather and natural disasters be scary? Yes. But are they fascinating to learn about? Also yes, especially for the 8- to 12-year-old crowd. Luckily, the Library has no shortage of engaging books on the topic, which I discovered while planning our most recent BLAST programs for 3rd-5th grade. I’ve included some of my favorites in this post and you can find the complete list of books we used on our Extreme Weather program page.
Every place on the planet experiences some form of natural threat, from tornadoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes, to extreme cold, volcanoes, and lightning. Exploring the science behind these events with kids opens a window to understanding their local environment and connects them to the rest of the world. Plus, there are tons of cool facts like this one:
“Teenager Matt Suter holds the record for the longest distance a person has been blown along by a tornado. He was carried 1,307 feet (398 m) – and he survived!”–taken from Disasters, by David Burnie
Reading and discussing these books as a family can provide a wonderful opportunity to talk about your own personal experiences. You know you love to tell those “I remember when…” stories.
With larger groups of kids in a more structured education environment, try out this strategy for exploring informational books:
- Gather a range of books on the topic
- Break the kids into smaller groups of 3 or 4
- Give each group a book or two
- Their task: try to find the most interesting/best fact in the book!
- After about 10 minutes (or once they start to get antsy) give each group a chance to share their favorite fact
This type of informal book exploration capitalizes on kids’ natural curiosity by allowing them to focus on the sections of the books that most interest them. It also shows kids that, with informational books, it is OK to flip through and read sections out of order.
But wait, there’s more! Kids can put their new knowledge to the test using this Extreme Weather True or False Game. Some people call these origami fortune tellers. Others call them cootie catchers. I prefer neither, but you can use those names to search for other fun games like this.
To prep, print the document double-sided then cut along the dotted line. The left-over rectangle is a book mark! This video gives directions for how to fold the game. Be sure to start with the written side face-down on the table.
**Quick note about printing: be sure to select the “Fit” or “Fit to page” option. This makes sure that none of the words on the far edges of the page get cut off by the printer.**
Now you’re ready to play! Here’s how:
by Bonny – CLP, BLAST