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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tsunamis and Earthquakes for Kids

View from NASA satellite on 3/5/11
An earthquake with a magnitude of 8.9 on the Richter Scale shook Japan on March 11, 2011.  The earthquake then triggered a 23 foot wave tsunami that caused massive destruction.   

Watching the videos of water sweeping cars and homes away, people scrambling to take cover under desks, people running in the streets trying to avoid falling bricks and many other images were disturbing to me.  I couldn’t help but think about my students who might also be seeing this on their televisions.

Naturally, children are curious, fascinated and maybe fearful of earthquakes and tsunamis.  It might be helpful for them to have some information about these topics. 
Richter Scale – Learn how to read the Richter Scale by Scholastic.

Tsunami – Watch this video designed for kids by the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). It describes what a Tsunami is and what do to if one occurs in your area.  Or watch this free BrainPop video (free for a few weeks) on Tsunamis. 
Earthquakes: This site from Weather Wiz Kids explains what causes earthquakes.   The USGS (United States Geological Survey) goes into greater detail for those who want to learn more about earthquakes.

Perhaps hearing about the tragedy in Japan has sparked an interest in that country.  Check out these sites for kids.

Kids Web Japan: Explore Japan’s climate, weather, culture, housing and other basic facts. Explore the rest of the site to learn about Japan’s Egg Machine and High Tech Train.

Time for Kids: Check out ‘A Day in the Life’ or ‘Native Lingo’

Putting the power in kids’ hands by helping them learn about natural phenomena like earthquakes and tsunamis will hopefully, ease their fears through understanding and at the same time create an interest in their world.

Please let me know if you have any resources that should be added to this list.  I welcome your comments and ideas.


  1. Hi Nan;

    It took me a while to connect to Tsunami but when I did connect it became very enlightening. Very easy to understand and very basic.

    Love, Dad

  2. After watching the Brainpop video I was wondering what would happen to submarines if they were in the path of the fast-traveling waves under the surface? kjj

  3. @ Dad - I think because it is a video that it takes a few seconds to load. The information is perfect for elementary kids - not too little, not too much.

    @ Karen - my students wondered the same exact thing! In one of the videos I viewed it said that boats way out in the ocean don't notice the tsunami - but I don't know if that is true for submarines. I'll check on that.

    Thanks for commenting!

  4. Great blog, Nancy - lots of good, and fun, info!

  5. Excellent! I'm sure there are many children that are frightened. This is a great way for them to learn. Knowledge can help them feel more in control. I am passing it along to all I know that have young ones. Thanks again, Nancy!

  6. You are so right about how this disaster sparks questions - and answers. I immediately wanted to know more about Japan - to see a map of where it hit,etc. Nice job of putting all of the links together. Not just for kids - adults too!

  7. Lorry,
    I had fun exploring the Japan site too and think kids would find it especially interesting. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  8. Nancy,
    This is so fitting. We are all worried and scared for our Japanese neighbors. One thing we can do is learn more about what is going on there.

    Great collection of resources to learn about tsunamis. I even learned to spell it from the lobster video--very informative, yet interesting. Thanks again for a wonderful collection, and for sharing your genius with the world!


  9. Thanks for sharing these great resources! Building understanding of the catastrophe can help allay the fears, and makes us all feel we're connecting with those involved in the tragedy.

  10. 2011 Japan earthquake actually was above 9.0 magnitude. Great post and article. I really found that Japan is interesting nation since the earthquake struck that nation. The tragedy during earthquake can not be stopped until now. Unfortunately, there was still no compromising ways to prevent anything from being injured from earthquakes. Best way is to live on the save places out of the faults line. I found out about earthquakes pages about fault lines.


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