What's the Plan, Stan? has suggestions for teaching and learning programmes for students in years 4–8, focusing on emergency events and the impacts they could have on your community.

Students in years 4–8 explore emergency events in a local context, covering the local and historical impact, the science behind the phenomenon, and preparation strategies and tips. At this level, students will have progressed from the understandings in the years 1–3 resource and will be able to look at emergency preparedness in more depth. 

 While the content of this resource is more advanced, the anxiety that students feel about the subject matter could well be the same. Advice on ways to help students overcome this anxiety can be found in the effective pedagogy section of this resource.

Local and historical impacts of emergency events

Students explore natural disasters in New Zealand and the emergency events that are most likely to happen in their area – and why they happen.

Setting the scene and identifying prior knowledge 

Whole class or small group discussion

Discuss pictures of emergency events that have happened in your local area or other parts of NZ. 

      • The Civil Defence website has a Photo Library of New Zealand emergency events.
      • pixabay has some free, reusable images.

Ask questions such as: 

      • What has happened here? How do you know?
      • Why do you think this happened? 
      • What could they have done to prepare for this emergency? 
      • What do you think they might do next? 
      • Where could they go? 
      • Have you ever experienced something like this?
      • How could they be prepared if this emergency happened again?
      • If the emergency event happened in a place outside your local area, how might this impact you as well?

After these discussions you could explore the following sites for further information on these questions:

Brainstorming and graphic organisers

Students can present their thinking on Thinking Maps. You can then use these maps as starting points to extend students’ thinking, asking:

      • How did you know what you knew?
      • Why is this important?
      • What is influencing your thinking?

Explore personal accounts focusing on thoughts and feelings. Create a flowchart or timeline of events to show the ways in which people may respond to an emergency. 

Shared or guided reading

Read the story “Flood” or Isabel’s Upside-down Day. Use prompts, questioning, or other strategies to focus on the feelings and emotions of characters in the story.

      • “Flood” by Sonny Mulheron. School Journal, Part 2, Number 2, 2004
      • Isabel’s Upside-down Day by Rosamond Rowe, 2000

Emergency events and local iwi

From the earliest times in New Zealand history, earthquakes and eruptions were recorded, both as eye witness accounts, and as myths and legends. Māori are kaitiakitanga of the land of Aotearoa, and as such, protect and guard the land no matter what form it takes. As tangata whenua, Māori have been involved in all of the emergency events in Aotearoa. 

Some ways you could explore this history and relationship with your students include:

      • Invite iwi historians to visit your classroom to share local legends and accounts of emergency events in your area.
      • Work with your students and their whānau to develop an understanding of the landscape of your local area. Learn Māori place names, especially for maunga and awa. Explore how the land may have changed over time, and how this has affected the people who lived there.
      • Listen to the stories - explore local Māori stories that explain natural phenomena, for example the story of Rūaumoko the god of earthquakes and volcanoes, or the story of Ngake and Whātaitai the taniwhas that formed Wellington Harbour and Mt Victoria. Encourage the students to write their own. An example can be found on Roadside Stories: Volcano traditions, an oral recount of Māori stories that explained the volcanic plateau of the central North Island.
      • Rūaumoko is the god of earthquakes and volcanoes. Explore his role in stories from different areas, and compare different versions of the same story and the reasons and traditions behind them.
      • Some scientists believe that Māori stories about natural disasters of the past could be used to understand potential for further disasters in the future. What could that say to your students about the future of your local area? What is the science behind this?

In addition to exploring a Māori perspective, look to the stories and traditions of all of the students in your class. What other experiences, stories, and perspectives can they bring?

Explaining emergency events

To examine the effects of natural emergency events, students need to have some understanding of how those events occur – and why. The following scientific investigations will help build these understandings. 


The Science of Earthquakes

Our Earth is not a solid rock but is made up of a series of different layers called the crust, the mantle, the inner and outer cores. The crust is the outside layer that we live on and is formed from a series of solid plates that float on the liquid mantle below. The plates are constantly moving due to convection currents occurring in the mantle layer as this layer is liquid magma and heats up and cools down resulting in convection currents. Some of these plates move apart (such as the plates running down the middle of the Atlantic Ocean). Some plates move directly into each other, such as the collision of the Australian Plate with the Pacific Plate forming the Southern Alps in the South Island. Others form subduction zones, where one plate moves under the other. This occurs in New Zealand in the North Island causing a line of volcanoes and geothermal areas. When plates move we get small cracks called fault lines. As fault lines move there can be either a gradual release of energy or a sudden release of energy resulting in earthquakes.


The Richter Scale measures the size of an earthquake. It is a measure of the energy released. When earthquakes are deep in the Earth their energy is the same but the shaking does not feel as strong as shallow earthquakes. The amount of shaking you feel is another way to describe earthquakes. This is called the intensity. It is stronger when you are close to the earthquake source and when the earthquake is shallow, and decreases the further away you are. So we describe earthquakes by the energy released or their magnitude, and also how strong the shaking feels or the intensity. 


Helping students to understand earthquakes

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) has developed resources to help students and teachers learn more about the science of earthquakes. These include:

      • Earthquakes New Zealand
        A resource designed to help students develop an understanding about earthquakes in New Zealand, including why we get them and how we measure them.
      • Earthquakes past and future
        Students use data on historical earthquakes to identify when and where they occurred and make predictions about future earthquakes.

For a video explaining basic tectonic plate movement, watch New Zealand: where two tectonic plates collide.


Learning activity – Build a quake-safe structure

Build quake-safe structure or design a building that could withstand an earthquake or a volcanic eruption. Use materials such as playing cards, lego, wooden blocks, and collected items from the school garden.

Investigate to find the answers to these questions: 

      • What is the best material for it to be built from? Why? 
      • What variables make a difference? Height? Weight? Stability?

Useful resource


The Science of Volcanoes

Volcanoes are mostly found along the borders between plates in the Earth’s crust. The Earth’s plates move around because they are floating on top of a layer of liquid rock called magma. Magma forms the layer we call the mantle. This layer is under a lot of pressure, and if there is a gap in the plates the liquid rock can be forced out (just like when you shake a bottle of fizzy drink and then open it). When the magma is forced out above ground, it cools to form solid rock. This is called lava. Lava can flow in sheets to form layers of new rock, but it can also build up hills and mountains which we call volcanoes.

All of New Zealand’s active volcanoes are on the North Island or in the sea near the North Island. Volcanoes can produce lava as well as ash, lahar and a range of different gases some of which are extremely poisonous. The shape and size of a volcano depends on the materials in the magma, the force of the explosions and its age. Volcanoes can be extinct, dormant or active.

The most common volcanic hazard is ash. It is very scratchy because volcanic ash is made up of tiny pieces of sharp rock. When an eruption happens ash can be carried hundreds of kilometres in the atmosphere by winds. During the volcanic eruption of Mt Ruapehu in 1996, a thin layer of ash covered farms, cars and buildings. 


Helping students to understand volcanoes

There are a number of New Zealand sites about the volcanic fields in Aotearoa. Students could visit GeoNet for an up-to-date volcano alert summary, or a Volcano map of New Zealand, to see the volcanoes in your local area. 

For resources that explain volcanoes to students:

Information written with Secondary ESOL students in mind:

Video of how volcanoes are formed and erupt:

Auckland’s volcanoes:


Learning activity – Make a volcano

Make small “volcanoes” out of gelatine and show how pressure in a volcano causes the eruption of magma. 

To make one small volcano, you will need:

      • 1 package of Gelatine 
      • 1 cup boiling water
      • 1 paper plate
      • A plastic syringe
      • Cold water
      • Red food colouring
      • Needle



      • Add gelatine into the boiling water. Stir until dissolved, pour into small cups or bowls and chill in the fridge for a few hours. The gelatine in the moulds are the mini volcanoes.
      • Cut a circle, bigger than the base of the volcano, from a paper plate. Poke a hole in the middle of the circle and put the gelatine volcano on top.  Make a small “crack” in the surface of the volcano with a needle.
      • Fill the syringe with water (dyed red). Push the syringe through the hole in the paper plate and empty the dyed water into the gelatine mold.
      • This will form a “magma chamber” and small “vents” inside the volcano. As magma is forced into the volcano, it should “erupt” through the crack in the top.


The Science of Tsunami

Tsunamis form when there is an earthquake which causes a vertical shift in the bottom of the ocean. This causes displacement of the water which causes a series of waves to form. The waves travel out from the source like ripples travelling across a pond after you drop a pebble in it. Tsunami waves can travel across entire oceans. Watch this animation of a tsunami caused by an earthquake in Chile in 2014 to see the waves travelling across the Pacific to New Zealand. Landslips can also cause Tsunamis. 


Helping students to understand Tsunami

To help students understand how damaging a tsunami can be, introduce the concept of shoaling. The process of shoaling helps to explain why tsunami waves get taller as they approach the shore - and the taller they are, the more damage can be caused. A graphic illustration of shoaling is also available. For more general information about tsunami, and an historic overview of tsunami in New Zealand, Te Ara has a comprehensive site that older students could read themselves. 

For a video explaining how tsunami are formed and the damage they can cause, watch New Zealand's Tsunami Hazard

See What’s the Plan, Stan, Years 1-3 for other suggested activities to explain tsunami.


Learning activity – Monster waves

Use the science and mathematics activity Education Place, Monster Waves, to investigate the power of a tsunami. In this activity, students will build a tabletop village and use it to visualize the relative height and effects of gigantic waves called tsunamis.


The Science of Thunderstorms

Above the crust (the solid layer of the earth that we live on) is a layer of air that is essential to all living things called the atmosphere. Our atmosphere can be divided into different layers. Closest to the ground is the troposphere, which is about 8-15 kilometres thick. This is the layer where most of our weather occurs as it is the most dense. The air in the atmosphere is always moving as it heats up and cools down, causing convection currents which we experience as wind. Clouds are also a visible sign of these convection currents. This means that the air becomes unstable and when unstable air meets lots of moisture there is the potential for thunderstorms to occur. 


Helping students to understand storms

Storms are common all over Aotearoa. To introduce the different components of a storm, Science Kids New Zealand has student friendly fact sheets on lightning, rain, thunder, wind, and hurricanes. The New Zealand Metservice has real time satellite imagery and thunderstorm warnings, to track the storm activity in your local area.

For a video explaining how storms are formed and the damage they can cause, watch Bill Nye The Science Guy: Storms


Learning activity – Make a thunderstorm

This is an experiment that students in years 4–8 should be able to do without teacher guidance. If possible, have the students record their observations using a digital device to take photos and annotate the photographs afterwards. 

In this experiment, water is used to represent hot and cold air. Blue water represents the cold air mass and red water represents the warm and unstable air mass. The warm water (air) is forced to rise by approaching cold water (a front). This is where thunderstorms would form.


      • Large rectangular plastic or glass container
      • Ice-cube moulds
      • Warm water
      • Red and blue food colouring


      • Pour some water in the ice cube moulds, add a few drops of blue food colouring and freeze it. Once frozen, add 2 or 3 cubes to one end of the rectangular container.
      • Then pour some warm water into the plastic container, filling it almost to the top. Add a few drops of red food colouring at one end of the container (to the opposite side of where you added blue coloured ice cubes).
      • Both dyes should immediately start to disperse and move together. 


Learning activity – Make a hurricane

STEMWORKS, Create-A-Cane: Build Your Own Hurricane!
In this interactive game, students can build their own hurricane.  As they do so, they’ll learn what kinds of wind conditions, latitude, and sea temperature are favourable for a hurricane to be born.


The science of floods

The water cycle simplified is when water circulates from clouds – to the soil – to streams – to rivers – to the oceans and then returns to the clouds.

When a lot of rain falls it can be too much for the soil to soak up and streams can fill up. When streams and rivers fill up faster than they can flow out to sea the water runs onto the adjoining low-lying land surfaces and causes a flood. Urban flooding can also occur when there is too much water for the stormwater drains to clear. 



Helping students to understand floods

With our substantial number of waterways, there are many parts of Aotearoa that could potentially be affected by a flood. In fact, floods are the most common emergency event around the country.

Flood facts for kids gives a factual overview, while Te Ara give a new Zealand perspective on floods and flood damage.

For a video explaining how storms are formed and the damage they can cause, watch The causes of flooding


Learning activity – Make a flood 

Flood map: Water Level Elevation Map gives a map of a local area and allows the user to adjust imaginary floodwaters to show how much of the land could end up under sea level.

      • Using the flood map and topographical maps or satellite images of your local area as guides, create a clay model of your local waterways, and add local landmarks. 
      • Add water to this model  (“rain”) to demonstrate what could be lost in a flood. 
      • Ask students to be creative in designing responses to the threat of flooding in your community. 


The Science of Landslides

The crust of the Earth may be made from solid rock but it has also changed over millions of years to form soil. This process is always occurring. Soils come in many different varieties. Soils can be worn down or worn away by water, wind, human activities. This is called erosion.

Where soils have built up over a while and a sudden event such as a heavy downpour, floods or earthquakes occur then a large quantity of soil can move quickly resulting in a landslide. However, this also depends on the type of soil and how ’sticky’ the soil particles are. ‘Sticky’ soil particles have lots of friction so hold together better than ‘smooth’ soil particles which slide easier. It also depends on factors such as tree roots which help hold soil together preventing landslides. Gravity can also play an important part as the steeper the slope of the land the greater the effect of gravity.


Helping students to understand landslides

Landslides are linked to floods, volcanoes, and earthquakes, as well as weathering and erosion caused by human sections.

One Geology Kids, has a few pages containing landslide information for students:

  • Slides, which gives a definition of a landslide
  • Mass movements, which gives an overview of how sections of hills can move down a slope
  • Waves, which describes what happens when a landslide occurs on the ocean floor.

For more general information about landslides, and an historic overview of landslides in New Zealand, Te Ara has a comprehensive site that older students could read themselves.

For a video explaining how one landslide in New Zealand is continuing to slip and cause damage to the surrounding environment, watch Dart Landslide January 2014

EQC provide the following information to help you be prepared for a landslide.


Learning activities – Exploring land movement and erosion

Use one of the experiments shown in this You Tube video: Erosion Lab to look at different kinds of erosion and landslides.

This experiment from Scientific American, uses physics to explain land movement.

Emergency events and your local area

Assign one emergency event (earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic eruptions, landslides, floods and storms) to small groups. Ask the groups to investigate and report on: 

      • What causes the event? (look at the relevant emergency event pages)
      • What features in the landscape or climate of your local area means it could happen? 
      • How could the event affect you and your local environment? (look at the IMPACT pages)
      • Has it happened before in your area? (look at the interactive map)
      • What were the stories about it?


Groups share the results of their investigation and their ideas on a shared class chart or graphic organiser. List the possible dangers and damage identified, for example, houses coming off their foundations, blocked roads, people trapped in buildings, power lines coming down, or burst water pipes. 


Students can create digital 3D models of what an emergency event might look like in your area. Try using a tool like Mapme or Sketchfab.


Home learning

Students discuss historic emergency events with their families and complete a summary sheet that explores questions like: 

      • What can we learn from these historic emergency events and experiences? 
      • What would we do differently or the same?
      • How could we prepare for it (or another disaster) happening again? 

Responding to scenarios

Using scenarios works well with older students, who are more able to separate fact from fiction and apply a fictitious scenario to action in real life. A range of scenarios are presented below.

How could you use these scenarios? 

      • Discuss each one in a group. 
      • Make a plan or flowchart to show how you could help someone in your neighbourhood before an emergency strikes or during an emergency. 
      • Mime or act out in a group. 
      • As topics for impromptu speeches.
      • Write your own ‘What if?’ situations. 
      • Make a game such as Snakes and Ladders.
      • Create digital comics or voicethread presentations.
      • Use them as a way to creatively share a preparedness message with ESOL students, students with special needs, or junior students in the school.
      • Use them as a writing prompt. Present a scenario to the class and ask students what they would do. Use the material on QuakeStories, a forum where Survivors of the Christchurch earthquakes tell their stories in their own words, as an exemplar. They could then write their own fictional accounts, or accounts of their own emergencies that have happened to them no matter how big or small.


These scenarios can be useful for short, teachable moments after a drill or practice. Discuss with students what they would do in some of these scenarios if they occurred at lunchtime or during breaks, or if the teacher isn’t at school and there is a reliever. 


Scenarios at school

What if:

      • You are sitting at your desk at school when the room begins to shake violently. Windows smash and the computer monitor crashes to the floor. 
      • You are playing outside when the ground starts to shake. Younger children around you start screaming. 
      • The school is closing early due to bad weather and a fast rising river close by. You know your parent or caregiver who usually picks you up is still at work. 
      • You are outside when the wind suddenly strengthens and objects begin to get blown about.
      • You are in the classroom during bad weather. The wind is getting really strong, and suddenly a window shatters. 

Scenarios at home

What if:

      • Violent shaking has brought down the chimney in your house, creating a hole in the roof.   
      • The river beside your house has broken its banks in a storm, and the water level is rising. 
      • You are listening to the radio when the song is interrupted by a Civil Defence siren alert noise followed by a special message. A cyclone warning is given. The cyclone is heading in your direction. 
      • Your family are all asleep in bed when you are suddenly woken up by the noise of furniture falling over and pictures falling off the walls.
      • It has been raining heavily all night and all day – a flood is threatened in your area.
      • Due to an earthquake, water pipes have burst in your house. Your parents are not at home and the lounge is starting to flood.
      • It is evening and dark outside. The power has just gone off. You have no lights, phone, or internet.
      • The bank at the back of your house has started to slip down towards a bedroom where your little brother is sleeping.

Scenarios between home and school 

What if:

      • While walking to school one morning, the ground begins to shake violently.
      • After a major storm, you notice a broken power line across the footpath.
      • A tsunami warning has been given. You have been advised by radio to evacuate the area. Your parents are not at home.
      • You are walking home from school after some very heavy rain. A very deep puddle of water blocks your way.
      • You meet a friend after school in the park. You notice the sky getting dark and see bolts of lightning. Heavy rain begins to fall. Loud claps of thunder echo all around.
      • You are at the supermarket when suddenly the ground begins to shake and items start falling from the shelves.

Scenarios on holiday

What if:

      • While holidaying at the beach you feel a strong earthquake. You notice the sea suddenly dropping back from the shore.
      • To get from your camping spot to the beach, you have to cross a small river. After heavy rain, the river has risen significantly.
      • While on holiday, warnings are given over the radio that a nearby volcano is erupting.
      • You are on holiday with your family on a boat. The weather turns nasty and you are now being washed towards the rocky shore.
      • You are in a hotel when there is a sudden low rumbling sound and the floor begins to shake.

Let’s get ready – be prepared

Impacts and super heroes

Have a look at the six impacts of emergency events linked to on the home page


Assign one impact and its associated superhero to individuals, pairs, or small groups of students. Ask them to complete the following activities.

      • Discuss, collect, or design the objects you think you might need to prepare for your emergency to lessen the impact.  Design a container suitable for your preparedness items so that you can carry everything if you need to leave home.
      • Ask for help from the school community to translate your ideas for preparing for emergencies  into a community language other than English – to be put into the school newsletter or other regular communications.
      • Make emergency plans for the ways you would prepare for an emergency, and deal with your impact at home, at school, or out in the community. Take into account what resources you would have, who you might be with, and what you could do now to mitigate future impacts. Share your plans on a class blog, or send an email home.
      • Explore ways to help community members with special needs or the elderly to prepare for or cope with the impact of an emergency event. How might the I.M.P.A.C.T superheroes look after them?
      • Explore ways to help pets or farm animals to prepare for and cope with the impact of an emergency. 
      • Design a way to present the impacts to a younger class, your whānau, or a community group. Create a prototype and get feedback on it from other class members, before making necessary adjustments and delivering/presenting it to your audience. Students may be inspired by this emergency preparedness display in Lego: Cornell University, Kids tackle natural disasters at Cornell LEGO Expo.


Emergency response procedures 

School procedures and plans

In groups of four to six, review the school’s emergency evacuation plans and emergency response procedures. If the school has various plans, give different plans to each group. Discuss the plans within each group to ensure that everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency.

Divide the groups in half – each group teaches another group what to do. Keep swapping groups until everyone has been through all the emergency response procedures. If the school has only one or two plans, go through these as a class.  

Are these school procedures and plans effective and clear for everyone? 

      • What other plans might we need? 
      • Can the information be communicated more clearly or in a different way?
      • How do we make students and families aware of these plans and procedures? 
      • How often do we practise these plans? Is it often enough or too often? 
      • How can we improve the effectiveness of our plans? 


Brainstorm a list of ways to improve the school plans and procedures. Ideas might include: 

      • Sharing information with other classes, families or at assembly. 
      • Drafting other emergency plans to present to the principal or Board of Trustees.
      • Writing emergency preparedness messages for the school newsletter.
      • Making a suggested timetable or checklist for the school or teacher to help check that drills have been completed
      • Including images/photographs with written plans and procedures to visually communicate key messages.
      • Creating a school emergency procedure video similar to the Air NZ safety videos.


Home learning – emergency plan / home preparedness

Students can create a home emergency plan with their families. Students could share their plans of how to deal with all six impacts with the class. 

Household emergency plan from Getthru provides more information.   

Students can visit EQC Fix. Fasten. Don’t Forget. and list the ways they can quake safe their home. They then talk with their parents about what action they have taken so far, and what further action they can take. The PDF Easy Ways To Quake Safe Your Home  provides more information.

Emergency planning at government, community, and family levels

Ask students what actions can be taken to prepare for emergency impacts. Create a chart or poster with information about actions at the three levels.

  • At a government level
    • Investigate the role and activities of Ministry for Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) and the Earthquake Commission (EQC) – including what might happen if we didn’t have these organisations (compare with other countries eg Japan, Haiti)
    • Investigate other ways in which government helps ensure we are ready for emergencies – eg building standards, land-use planning
  • At a community level
    • Investigate the role in an emergency of the fire service, paramedics and police, and disaster relief agencies like Red Cross
  • At a family and individual level
    • Investigate ways in which groups and individuals can be proactive, rather than reactive, in their preparation
    • Visit the LEARNZ website and complete the‘What’s The Plan Stan?’ virtual field trip.


Suggestions for discussion and debate:

  • Should kids need to be prepared for an emergency?
  • Why do we need to prepare at all? This is never going to happen!
  • Can kids help in times of an emergency event?


New Zealand Curriculum aligned resources

Building Science Concepts

Building Science Concepts provide a structured approach for teaching science concepts, helping teachers to build students' understandings from simple to more complex scientific ideas and to relate these to students' existing understandings of the world around them.

Science Online, Book 2: Weathering and Erosion Weathering and Erosion  (levels 3–4)

Science Online, Book 12: Volcanoes: Hot Rock in a Cool World Science Online (levels 3–4)

Science Online, Book 40: Earthquakes: Feeling the Earth Move

Science Online, Book 50: Storms: Extreme Weather  (levels 3–4)

If your school does not have these titles, they can be ordered at Down the Back of the Chair: Ministry of Education Resource Catalogue.

ARBS assessment resources

The Assessment resource bank houses assessment resources in maths, science and English for students working in levels 1–5 of the New Zealand Curriculum.

(You will need to create an account to use these assessment resources)



Learning area



Emergency planning guide

English: Making meaning, viewing



What’s happening in the world

Science: Knowledge, Planet Earth



 Civil emergency

Science: Knowledge, Planet Earth
Science capability: Interpret representations




English: Making meaning, reading
Key competencies: Thinking, using language, symbols texts



A new town

Science: Communicating in science, Planet Earth



 Flood prevention

English: Making meaning, reading
Key competencies: Using language, symbols and texts



 Tidal wave


English, Making meaning, Reading
Key Competencies:  Using language, symbols, texts



 Recording the wind

Science: Understanding about science, Planet Earth
Science capability: Gather and interpret data



Causes of slips

Science: Knowledge, Planet Earth



Diagram of a volcano

Science, Knowledge, Planet Earth
Science capability: Interpret representations 



A volcano erupts


Science, Investigating in science, Planet Earth
Science Capabilities:  Gather and interpret data, Interpret representations



Volcanic eruptions

Science, Knowledge, Planet Earth
Science capability: Gather and interpret data



The Tarawera eruption

Science, Communicating in science, Planet Earth
Science Capabilities: Interpret representations



Roads and earthquakes

Science, Communicating in science, Planet Earth
Science capability: Interpret representations




Science: Knowledge, Planet Earth



Wellington earthquakes

Science: Knowledge, Planet Earth




Science, Communicating in science, Planet Earth
Science capability: Gather and interpret data



Where was that earthquake?

Science, Investigating in science, Planet Earth
Science capability: Gather and interpret data



Earthquakes and tectonic plates 

Science, Communicating in science, Planet Earth
Science capability: Gather and interpret data



Modified Mercalli intensity scale

Science, Investigating in science, Planet Earth
Science capability: Use evidence



School Journals and Connected

The School Journal supports students in years 4−8 to develop the knowledge and skills required to meet the reading demands of all the curriculum areas. Connected promotes scientific, technological, and mathematical literacy.

“Earthquake” by Lynn Davis. School Journal, Level 3, Nov 2011
The story of one family's experiences during and after the 4 September 2010 Christchurch earthquake. Teacher support material is available.

“One City – Two Earthquakes” by Jenna Tinkle. School Journal, Level 3, Nov 2011
Two earthquakes struck Christchurch, one in 2010 and another in 2011. Why was the second quake so much worse than the first? Teacher support material is available.

“Quake, Rattle, and Roll” by Sarah Wilcox. School Journal Story Library, No. 3, 2013
The article compares NZ quakes on the Richter scale and on a timeline. Students can make connections within, across, and beyond the text. An audio file and teacher support material are available.

“Learning from the Christchurch Earthquakes” by Phillip Simpson. Connected 4, 2014
The Christchurch earthquakes have provided scientists with new data and changed the way they think about earthquakes. Teacher support material is available.

“A Bit of a Bang” by David Hill. School Journal, Part 4, No. 3, 2004
This article explains how 1800 years ago the Earth's crust moved, and Lake Taupo was formed from the resulting explosions. 

“Rūaumoko Rages” by Bronwen Wall. Connected 1, 2011
The article explains the different types of volcanoes and how they are formed. It also outlines features of NZ's volcanic landscape. Teacher support material available.

“Understanding Volcanoes” by Tessa Duder. Connected 1, 2011
A profile of a scientist who studies volcanoes and explains what her job entails.

“Living with a Volcano” by Bronwen Wall. Connected 1, 2011
This is an article about living beside a volcano – how although they can be dangerous, they can also benefit the people and the land. Teacher support material is available.

“The Tsunami That Washed Time Away” by Jenna Tinkle. Connected 3, 2014
Geologists James Goff and Scott Nichol thought the landscape at Henderson Bay in Northland was changed by a huge tsunami hundreds of years ago. Can they find evidence to support their idea? Teacher support material is available.

“The Race” by Rose Quilter. School Journal, Part 3, No. 1, 2011

This is an exciting story about a girl who is running a race – competing against her brother with encouragement from Dad. By the last page, it is clear that this is no ordinary race: the family is running to escape a tsunami. Teacher support material is available.

“The Strength of Roots” by Marisa Maepu. School Journal, Level 4, March 2012
A story about the earthquake and tsunami that struck the South Pacific in September 2009, and how a young boy is saved by the strength of a tree's roots and branches.

“The Hungry Wave” by Lani Wendt Young. School Journal, Level 3, February 2012
Survivors' accounts of the devastating tsunami that struck Samoa and Tonga on 29 September 2009. Teacher support material is available.

“Flood” by Sonny Mulheron. School Journal Part 2, No. 2, 2004
An account by Ama and her mother of the Paekakariki flood, and evacuating their home at the height of the flooding. Additional safety information is provided at the end of the article. Teacher support material is available.

“The Matata Flood: Ethan Beach's Story” by Adrian Muller. School Journal, Part 4, No. 1, 2007
The story is about the storm that wiped out part of Matata, told through the eyes of Ethan. 

“Severe Weather” by Sarah Wilcox. School Journal Story Library, No. 1, 2012
This article defines, describes, and explains severe weather events allowing the teaching of text structure as a support for comprehension. An audio file for this story is available.


Games and digital challenges

These games and digital challenges allow students to try out some of their new preparedness knowledge. They range in levels of difficulty.

Get Ready for the Big One
This resource from Te Papa helps you prepare for some of New Zealand’s natural hazards – earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis. NZ based.

Severe weather preparedness adventure
Beat five weather challenges in this game by The American National Weather service. This resource provides spoken information about emergency events and would suit students who like to take part in a cartoon game with a little interaction. Difficulty - basic

A disaster simulation game. This resource requires reading and maths skills. It asks students to make the best use of their available funds to help more citizens survive various disasters. Good for global thinking about emergency events. International. Difficulty - advanced.

Other online resources



Volcanic Eruptions

  • Volcanoes 101 – Part of a series of natural disaster videos produced by National Geographic
  • How to teach … volcanoes  – Resources and ideas about volcanoes from The Guardian teacher network