Planning for and Surviving Earthquakes


  • This lesson delves into the humanitarian side of surviving earthquakes, focusing on basic needs that need to be met after an earthquake.

Estimated Time

  • 30-45 minutes


  • Calculator (optional)
  • Computers for small groups (for engagement activity)
  • Paper
  • Pencils or Pens
  • Worksheet


  • Students will learn about the hazards following an earthquake related to basic human survival needs.
  • Students will communicate while working in their groups to determine what is necessary to survive.
  • Students will be able to give proper explanations and reasoning for decision making, to evaluate understanding.

National Standards Addressed

Math (Presented by National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 2000)
Numbers and Operations
  • Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems.
  • Understand meanings of operations and how they relate to one another.
  • Compute fluently and make reasonable estimates.
  • Analyze change in various contexts.
Data Analysis and Probability
  • Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data.
Problem Solving
  • Solve problems that arise in mathematics and in other contexts.
  • Apply and adapt a variety of appropriate strategies to solve problems.
  • Recognize and apply mathematics in contexts outside of mathematics.
Science (Presented by National Research Council in 1996)
Unifying Concepts and Processes
  • Change, constancy, and measurement
Science as Inquiry
  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
Life Science
  • Populations and ecosystems.
  • Personal health.
  • Populations, resources, and environments.
  • Natural hazards.
History and Nature of Science
  • Science as a human endeavor.
Technology (Presented by the International Society for Technology in Education in 1998)
Technology research tools
  • Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.

Engagement Activity (optional)

  • Split students into groups of 3-4. With a computer for each group, have students explore FEMA for Kids site, especially the Get Ready, Get Set section.

Instructional Plan

  • Inform students that in their small groups (3-4 students each) they are going to act like the local FEMA chapter in charge of preparing the necessities for the community before an earthquake.
  • Ask students to list 3 items you may need to survive after an earthquake.
  • As a class, list all of the items the groups discussed, and brainstorm any other items.
  • Distribute worksheet, and have students fill in the key items in the appropriate table.
  • Allow students in their groups to discuss and work through the worksheet.

Sustaining, Concluding, or Extending Activities (optional)


  • Have the class gather together and determine a formula to figure out the amount of supplies needed to provide for a group of 100 people, for one week.


  • Using the grocery/coupon sections from the local newspaper, have students determine the amount of each item to purchase, if given a budget.
  • Relate the information gathered here to what happened with Katrina victims.
  • Create an evacuation plan for an earthquake based on the information for the school population. This could also be changed to include information specific to an area, e.g. a blizzard in Buffalo, a tornado in Oklahoma.
  • Using a map of the town, create routes for emergency vehicles to local shelters, hospitals, police stations, etc.

Evaluation and Assessment

  • Are their answers reasonable?
  • Do the students understand why you need a certain amount per person, for each day, and therefore how we came up with the numbers we did?
  • Discussion in groups can be monitored to observe the studentsí interactions and whether or not they understand the problem posed.

E-Resources, Print Materials, and Hands-on Activities