Teaching Kids about Tropical Storms & Hurricanes

An important “teachable moment” activity for home revolves around the education of children about tropical storms and hurricanes.  The typical areas that are affected in the United States by these storms are the states that border along the Gulf of Mexico or along the Atlantic up the east coast.  Hurricane season is from June 1st until November 30th with the peak of the storm season between mid-August and mid-October.


It is important for children who live in these areas about safety and planning for this time of the year.  They should learn about the weather elements behind the storm along with the impact that such a strong storm can have on the communities that are affected in the track.  Science, history, and math can all be tied into a lesson on hurricanes.

The Science & Math behind a Hurricane

National Hurricane Center is a great resource to learn the science and weather elements that help to form a hurricane.  In addition to providing updated forecasts of the strength and movement of a hurricane online, they also provide links to information about hurricane preparedness and learning about hurricanes.  This information has helped to prevent many hurricane prone areas from becoming disaster zones.

This website has other useful links to pages including learning about the Saffir-Simpson Scale in measuring hurricane strength, a glossary of hurricane terms, how the storms are named, and the aircraft technology used to fly into a storm to determine strength.

You can download a storm tracking map and then use stickers or pushpins to track the storms.  Each different color would represent a different storm and a legend could be used to track the strengthening and weakening of the storm.  This activity not only provides a means for teaching about hurricanes and weather, but also about map skills.

History of Hurricanes

There are several major historical disasters that have happened because of the impact of hurricanes.  It is important for children to learn about these events to help them to understand the storms, tracking, and impact that can happen because of a storm and also how important it is to be prepared or even evacuate in the wake of a storm.

Children should learn about the impact and devastation of New Orleans and the surrounding areas because of Hurricane Katrina.  There are so many resources available online to combine the learning of history with hurricanes including timeline building of the events, path, and strengthening of the storm and the events after the storm that lead to the rebuilding of New Orleans.  Lessons can also incorporate video, pictures, news stories, and personal biographies.

Lesson Websites for Teaching about Hurricanes

  1. Learning about the Eye of a Hurricane
  2. Wind Speed & Waves caused by Hurricanes
  3. Hurricane Andrew Analysis Online Activity
  4. Hurricane Links, Resources, Websites, and Educational Activities

Article By Laura Ketcham

Picture By NASA Goddard Photo and Video
Free Educational Resources by SmartTutor.com

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