Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Natural Disasters
Lesson 1
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework

Focus Question(s):

As one person, how can I make a difference in the wake of a natural disaster?


The learners will become aware of human need brought about by natural disasters and will compare domestic experiences with parallel events on the other side of the world.


Two 50 minute class periods


The learner will:

  • define natural disaster.
  • identify recent national and international natural disasters.
  • share personal memories and/or experiences of national and/or international natural disasters.
  • research and compare/contrast two natural disasters, Hurricane Katrina and the Great Hanshin-Awaji Disaster.
  • identify the terms “honoring” and “preparedness” as ways of dealing with disasters.
  • identify the need for and the variety of human responses to natural disasters.


Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
As the learners enter the classroom have on display pictures depicting “natural disasters”.  Ask the learners what they think these pictures have in common and solicit possible terms that might describe what it is that they are seeing.  Lead the learners to conclude that these are pictures of “natural disasters” and have them agree on a definition of what a “natural disaster” is.  (A “natural disaster” is a sudden calamitous event, not caused by mankind that brings great damage, loss, or destruction.)  Encourage the learners to share what they know and might have experienced concerning natural disaster (s).  Write the words “honoring” and “preparedness” on the display board and have the class conjecture as to how these two words might relate to “natural disaster(s)” (Definition: “honoring” being aware of the potential for, and respect for, natural disasters; “preparedness” having a plan of action in response to potential and impending disasters.)
Have the learners list some of the natural disasters they are aware of and share what they know about these disasters. (
Listing of Contemporary National and International Natural Disasters:
www.emdat.be/ )

  • Group the learners into groups of two and have one learner in each group research the Hurricane Katrina Disaster and the other the Great Hanshin-Awaji Disaster.
  • Have each group create and complete a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting these two disasters. Label one circle Hurricane Katrina Disaster and Great Hanshin-Awaji Disaster.
  • Place a large Venn Diagram on the display board and have the entire class share in constructing a whole-class Venn Diagram.
  • Based on their research and discussion have the learners share what role “honoring” and “preparedness” might play in responding to natural disasters.
  • Distribute the “Teen Survivors of Hurricane Katrina Share Their Stories” and have the learners read and share how individuals responded to this natural disaster.
  • Conclude this lesson by having the learners share how corporations, non-profit organizations, and government, as well as individuals, have helped in caring and sharing ways in response to natural disasters of the types described here as well as others.


The assessment of this lesson will be based upon learner involvement in the class discussions, the quality of research, depth of understanding evidenced in the construction of the Venn Diagram, and the conclusions reached concerning the need for and the variety of human responses to natural disasters.

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

Have the learners “interview” family members about the “natural disaster” that they most vividly recall from the past, and how this impacted their life and thinking.

Bibliographical References:

Lesson Developed By:

Jeanette Vanausdall
University High School
Carmel, Indiana 46032


Philanthropy Framework:

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