University of Illinois Extension
Disaster Resources - University of Illinois Extension

Children, Stress, and Natural Disasters:
School Activities for Children

Disaster Preparedness

Teachers should provide some time to review the school's disaster preparedness plan and conduct drills with students early in the school year. There are other activities and projects that teachers can use.

Curriculum Suggestions

  1. Break the class into smaller groups and have them develop a disaster plan for their home, school, or community. Questions would include: What would they do? What would they take if they had to be evacuated? What kinds of emergency supplies should they have? How should the family be prepared? How would they contact their parents if they were in school? How could they help their family? Small groups might then share their plans in a discussion with the entire class.
  2. Invite experts to review these plans and talk about what they would recommend.
  3. Sponsor a "Family Protection Plan Meeting" and invite family members to participate. For example, the American Red Cross and many state emergency management agencies can provide an educator who can speak to teachers, parents, and students about developing a Family Protection Plan. This program will include discussions of why a plan is important, how to develop and implement a plan, and the kinds of disaster supplies that families should have in case of emergency.

There are also a number of curriculum guides and materials available from the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help teachers and childcare providers. Examples of these resources are provided in grade level order.

Curriculum Guides

Disaster Preparedness

Earthquake Preparedness: What Every Childcare Provider Should Know

  • Target: Childcare providers
  • Source: FEMA
  • Cost: Free

This guide contains information on preparing homes for safety, preparing and practicing an emergency plan, what to do during and after an earthquake, and children's reactions after an earthquake.

* Earthquake Preparedness: What Every Childcare Provider Should Know (FEMA 240) Available from: FEMA (1-800-480-2520)

Disaster Preparedness Coloring Book

  • Target: Grades Preschool - 4
  • Source: American Red Cross, FEMA
  • Cost: Free

Designed for a parents or teachers and children to work on together. The book contains one page of text for adults and a coloring page for children on: natural disasters, emergencies, different kinds of disasters, disaster supplies kit, and family Expressing Feelings disaster plan.

* Disaster Preparedness Coloring Book (ARC Stock No. 2200; also FEMA-243) Available from: your local American Red Cross chapter or from FEMA (1-800-480-2520)

Be Ready 1-2-3

  • Target: Grades 1-3
  • Source: American Red Cross
  • Cost: Free

Be Ready is a disaster preparedness program for children in primary grades. Three animal "experts" (Cool Cat, Ready Rabbit, and Disaster Dog) help teach appropriate responses to home fires, winter storms, and earthquakes. Students will learn simple preparedness skills, practice appropriate responses, and involve their families in general preparedness. Lessons are designed to run to 1 hour in length. It also contains an appendix giving information on how to reach children effectively, working with puppets, and explaining the program to parents.

* Be Ready 1-2-3 Instructor's Manual (Stock No. ARC 5018). Contains lesson plans and appendix of resources.

* Be Ready 1-2-3 "How-To" Guide (Stock No. 5019). Contains information on the supplies needed for each lesson, black- and-white camera-ready art to be reproduced to supplement the lessons, patterns for felt board demonstrations and puppet characters, and line drawings to be enlarged as visual aids.

* Be Ready 1-2-3 Workbook (Stock No. 5017). An 8-page workbook for children.

* Be Ready 1-2-3 Completion Certificate (Stock No. Cert. 814). Some Red Cross chapters may require an orientation session or have other eligibility requirements. The materials are available at no cost from your local American Red Cross chapter. Available from: your local Red Cross chapter.

Earthquake Safety: Activities for Children Expressing Feelings

  • Target: Grades K - 6
  • Source: FEMA
  • Cost: Free

This 37-page guide contains excerpts from Earthquakes - A Teacher's Package for K-6 (FEMA 159, described below) a curriculum guide developed by the National Science Teachers Association. This guide contains lesson plans and reproducible activity masters for units on: What Happens During an Earthquake, Hunt for Hazards, Prepare and Share (assembling emergency supplies kits and informing others about earthquake safety), and Earthquake Simulation and Evacuation Drill.

* Earthquake Safety: Activities for Children (FEMA 88a)
Available from: FEMA (1-800-480-2520)

Adventures of the Disaster Dudes

  • Target: Grades 4-6
  • Source: American Red Cross, FEMA
  • Cost: Free

A 28-page presenter's guide outlines how to use a 14 minute video, "The Adventure of the Disaster Dudes" to help introduce children to disaster preparedness. It includes information on how to work with school systems, build partnerships, talk with children about family disaster preparedness, and plan an effective presentation. Lesson plans are included for a 45 minute presentation, but the presenter's guide also offers suggestions for other types of classroom activities.

Materials for this program include:
* Adventures of Disaster Dudes Presenter's Guide (ARC Stock No. 5024; also FEMA 242)

* Adventures of Disaster Dudes Video [14:10] (ARC Stock No. A5024). Available from: your local Red Cross chapter or FEMA (1-800-480-2520)

Health and Safety

F.A.C.T. First Aid for Children Today

  • Target: Grades K-3
  • Source: American Red Cross
  • Cost: Free

FACT is a comprehensive health and safety education program targeted for second graders, but adaptable for children in grades K-3. The program (1) teaches children how to become aware of behaviors that can lead to injuries or illness; (2) teaches them ways to prevent injuries; (3) teaches them how to respond to injuries; and (4) encourages them to make choices that will positively influence their health and that of the environment. These concepts are highlighted in a series of 6 lessons on first aid, healthy living habits, personal safety, injury prevention, road safety, and environmental health. Animal characters are used to communicate specific messages for each lesson.

Materials in the F.A.C.T. Program Kit (Stock No. 329790) include:
* F.A.C.T Leader's Guide, a 165 page manual that includes background information, lesson plans, letters to parents, and reproducible lesson material.

* F.A.C.T. Fun Book (Stock No. 329791), a 39 page activity book for students

* F.A.C.T. Posters (Stock no. 239477), a set of six posters and a program poster for teaching and promotion of the program.

This course was designed to be taught by educators, caregivers, youth leaders, and others who work with children. No special Red Cross training is required to teach the program. For more information, call your local Red Cross chapter.

Basic Aid Training (BAT)

  • Target: Grades 4-6
  • Source: American Red Cross
  • Cost: Instructor training cost may vary by chapter

The BAT program teaches children 8 to 10 years old basic skills and knowledge needed to identify and prevent potentially harmful situations, to be able to treat common injuries, and to respond in emergency situations. Information in the teachers manual assists instructors to teach young people how to think preventively -- how to stop an emergency from occurring and how to respond effectively if it does. Students who successfully complete the program receive Red Cross BAT certification. The curriculum consists of 12 units, 6 of which are required for Red Expressing Feelings Cross BAT certification.

Materials available for this program include:
* American Red Cross Basic Aid Training Instructor's Manual (Stock No. 329332). Includes background information, lesson outlines, reproducible lesson material, and resource lists.

*American Red Cross Basic Aid Training (BAT) Book (Stock No. 239333). Student activity book (53 pages).

*Basic Aid Training Course Completion Certificate (Cert. No. 3201)Instructors must be trained by your local American Red Cross unit. There may be a fee for the training (between $30 and $40) which may require 2 full week-end days.For more information, call your local Red Cross chapter.

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