Investigating Extreme Weather Events with Interactive Activities

sunset/lightning. Photo courtesy of Scotto Bear, Wikimedia Commons.

In Consequences of Climate Change: Lessons about Water Availability and Extreme Weather, we highlighted lessons that can be used to teach elementary students about extreme weather events such as hurricanes and droughts. Such events are expected to increase in frequency as Earth’s climate changes, although we do not recommend making this connection with elementary grades students. Simply learning about the weather events is sufficient at this stage.

In this article, we highlight resources that can be used to supplement lessons on extreme weather, including games and video clips.

Severe Weather Challenge
In this game, students give advice to people encountering extreme weather across the United States by answering questions about extreme heat, hurricanes, thunderstorms, winter weather, and tornadoes. It is part of a larger set of resources from The Weather Channel Kids! web site.

What Is a Hurricane?
This blog entry from Wonderopolis explains the science behind hurricanes and includes a video clip. Vocabulary words and resources are also included.

How Do Hurricanes Get Their Names?
This blog entry from Wonderopolis includes a video clip and explains how hurricanes are named. Vocabulary words and resources are also included.

Where Is Tornado Alley?
This blog entry from Wonderopolis includes a video clip, explains how tornadoes form, and includes directions for modeling a tornado in a bottle. Vocabulary words and resources are included.

This article was written by Jessica Fries-Gaither. Jessica is an education resource specialist at The Ohio State University and project director of Beyond Weather and the Water Cycle and Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears. She has taught in elementary and middle school settings. Email Jessica at

Copyright February 2012 – The Ohio State University. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1034922. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. This work is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons license.

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