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Twister Alert! Tornado Information and Safety Tips for Children

written by: Patricia Gable • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 1/17/2012

Safety tips are important to reinforce with children every school year. Use the book Twister on Tuesday as a springboard to introduce tornado information and safety tips for children. Make a safety poster, discuss a family safety plan, learn facts about tornados and practice some map skills.

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    It is nice to do activities across the curriculum whenever you can. So begin your lesson on tornado safety tips for children by reading Twister on Tuesday, which is a Magic Tree House book by Mary Pope Osborne.

    In this adventure, the main characters, Jack and Annie, are pioneer children in Kansas. In the middle of the prairie, miles away from13707781.JPG  any trees or houses, they find a school having it’s first day of class in a “dugout”.

    Jack and Annie learn that a “dugout” is a house made out of sod bricks and built into the side of a hill. Sod bricks are actually blocks of earth. The dugout often had a storm cellar, a rough basement below the ground. Pioneers made the storm cellars because they were the safest place to be during a tornado.

    Jack and Annie are ready to leave the prairie when the weather gets bad. A tornado is coming! They return to the school in the “dugout”, move the rug and find a door to the storm cellar.

    The teacher and children scurry into the storm cellar. The tornado rips the roof off of the school but the teacher and children are safe.

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    Tornado Facts

    A tornado is defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground.

    • Tornados can happen in many parts of the world but most often occur in the United States.
    • Winds in a tornado can be faster than 200 miles per hour.
    • A spinning tornado acts like a giant vacuum cleaner that sucks things up in its path and drops them in other places.
    • Tornados can pick cars up, twist trees, rip off roofs and damage huge buildings.
    • Waterspouts are tornados that are over a body of water.
    • The sky may have a greenish color before a tornado.
    • A tornado can sound like a freight train.
    • Lightning, hail and flooding can be part of a tornado pattern
    • Most tornados are classified as weak with winds less than 110 miles per hour.
    • Tornados can be classified as strong and violent depending on the strength of the winds and how long it lasts.

    Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osbourne have a companion book called Twisters and Other Terrible Storms.

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    Map Skills

    Use a blank United States map and instruct the children to mark the state in which they live.

    Color “Tornado Alley”. These are the states in which tornados may occur more often and the intensity of the storms may be greater. Statistics vary from year to year. Basically it is in the central United States including: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas (setting of Twister on Tuesday), Indiana, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, southern half of Illinois, northern half of Texas, western parts of Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. thumbnail.aspx 

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    What Can I do?

    • Families should talk about what to do in case of a tornado. What is the safest place in your home?
    • Listen to the radio or television for weather reports. A Tornado Watch means that the weather is right for a tornado to happen. A Tornado Warning means one or more tornados have been seen and that you should get in a safe place right away.
    • Keep a battery-operated radio in the house in case the power goes out.
    • The safest place is a basement. (Jack and Annie used the storm cellar.)
    • If you do not have a basement, go to an inside room, hallway or closet on the first floor of your home. Stay away from all windows.
    • If you are outside and cannot get back inside, lay face down in a ditch or on the ground and cover your head.
    • If you are in a car, get out of it and go to a nearby building.
    • Never touch power lines that are down after the storm.
    • If you are at school, stay very quiet and follow your teacher's instructions.

    HOMEWORK: (In writing and signed by parent and student)

    My family talked about tornado safety. If I am at home when a tornado is coming, a safe place to go would be_______.

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    Role Play

    You may want to role-play some of the above tips, especially what to do if you are outside when a tornado is coming. Certainly you must practice the school's tornado safety plan with your students!

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    Tornado Safety Poster

    Use large light colored construction paper. List the safety tips on the board. Instruct the students to choose a safety tip and create a colorful poster about it. Use large letters and big pictures. Hang these in the hallway.thumbnail-3.aspx 16-55-40 

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    Tornado Safety Tips for Children should include easy to understand safety rules for the students. It can also be done in a relevant way by reading from a favorite series The Magic Tree House: Twister On Tuesday about children actually caught in a tornado. This lesson involves map skills, creating safety posters to be viewed by other classes and discussion of family safety plans. Your students will be prepared!

Magic Tree House Book Activities: Travel the World

Jack and Annie found a magic tree house that takes them to different times and places. Use one of their books as a springboard to a science or social studies lesson. Find Magic Tree House book activities here!
  1. Ready, Set, Compete! A Lesson on The Hour of the Olympics
  2. Give Thanks with Annie and Jack in The Magic Tree House
  3. Twister Alert! Tornado Information and Safety Tips for Children
  4. Literature Unit for Good Morning Gorillas