With the earthquake that happened in Haiti last week, I wanted to talk to my children about it, I wanted them to learn what an earthquake was and to encourage empathy for those in need.   We also have been looking at atlas’ together and I wanted them to realize there are people across the globe, people who are hurting.

For this activity, we used a train-set, building blocks and a cutting board.   To make building the trains special or more memorable we set them up on our kitchen table.   They loved leaning/laying on the table to help create the “set”.   We built a portion of the train and buildings on the cutting board.   The cutting board symbolized the crust of the earth.

  • What happens if we shake the cutting board?   What happens to the buildings?

Here is a clip of different pictures from the quake.   There are very few injured people in these clips.   We discussed the damage to the buildings and the roads.   Some questions you can use to get your preschoolers thinking:

  • What happens to the roads? How can the people visit each other or go to the store?
  • What happened to these homes?   Can the people live in them now?   What will the people have to do?
  • Do you think the people who survived the earthquake are happy or sad?   Why?
  • What do you think the people need?

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  1. Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this post and also the rest
    of the website is really good.

  2. I like the idea of focusing on structural damage…although I would be concerned that might be too much even for my anxiety-prone daughter. Someone taught her about tornadoes once and now she is constantly in fear of them, even though we told her they rarely come to suburban NY and, even when they do, they lose steam quickly because there isn’t much open space.

  3. Oh my! What a post! Wow! I think it is very important to teach our children about the world, this is amazing.

    How do manage any “worries” or “fears” they may develope?


  4. I agree with what Suan (the bookchook) said, that kid’s imaginations can create very scary scenarios. This is a great concrete activity that would help them understand. I think it could even be good for kids older than preschool. I know I was teaching 5th graders during the time of the World Trade Center disaster and it was very, very hard for them to wrap their minds around the disaster. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. I think you’re right to discuss this with your preschoolers in such a hands-on and memorable way. Kids catch glimpses of natural disasters and their imaginations can create very scary scenarios, so it’s important to deal with them in an up-front and age-appropriate way.

  6. Weather and Natural Disasters are things that I’ve never thought of teaching my child about. This is a fun and very informative approach. Fun ways to learn 🙂 Let them play – but be in the back asking the questions… getting them to think!

  7. Yes, I agree with you on teaching our kids that sometimes bad things can happen. When we had a tornado last year, I took my then nearly 3 year old to see the damage. Now 7 months later he still remembers it and sometimes ask to see the video a car flipping over, and when we sees house under construction, thinks it because the wind blew off the roof. They are like sponges and remember it all, so teaching them the important of helping with stay with them forever.
    .-= Ottavia “Tammy”´s last blog ..My recent favourite funnies =-.