Earthquake Preparedness in the Primary Grades

By Eric Antuna on January 14, 2010
  • Grades: 3–5

With the recent seismic events in Haiti, please try to take the time to help students understand the importance of being ready in case of an earthquake. Teaching students about earthquake preparedness is critical in light of the disaster in Haiti. You can also use this tragic event to help children understand the importance of giving and helping a community in need.

Teach about Earthquakes:

According to FEMA, "Earthquakes and their aftershocks are one of the most frightening and destructive phenomena of nature. Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently and without warning at any time of day or night. When earthquakes occurs in populated areas, it can cause injury, death and extensive property damage."

Start the conversation and learn the facts about earthquakes using online videos or photos. Talking to students about the seismic causes of earthquakes will help dispel some fears and help them understand how to stay safe during one. Teach students how to prepare and protect themselves during earthquakes by learning: 

1. What to do before an earthquake, 2. What to do during an earthquake and, 3. What to do after an earthquake.

Of course all schools take time to do emergency drills, and if you are a teacher on the West Coast, you know that it's especially important to practice earthquake drills.

Practice Drills - Even if there isn't a school-wide drill, it doesn't mean there can't be one in your room! Take the time to explain to students how to behave and keep safe during the drill and follow all of your district guidelines.

Disaster Relief and Donations:

Start a Penny Drive - A teacher at my school had this great idea and started collecting pennies for the victims of the Haiti quake. Take this time to help students understand the need to give and donate.

Some charitable, reputable organizations to donate to are:

American Red Cross
Text “HAITI” to “90999″ to make a $10 donation.
2025 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
(800) REDCROSS (733-2767)

Oxfam America
226 Causeway St., 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02114-2206
(800) 77-OXFAM (776-9326)

If you have any others ideas to share, please do!
Thanks for reading!



One of our spelling words last week was "earthquake", this was great because it was a nice way to start a conversation about the recent tragedy. My second graders knew a great deal more about the event than I thought they would. These ideas will be helpful, thank you for keeping current events part of your teaching ideas. It brings real life into the classroom.


Thanks for sharing a great tip. I think you bring up a great point: children know more than sometimes we're willing to admit! What a great way to start a conversation with the entire class.

Thanks for the comment!


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