Scholastic News

A World Together
Teacher Lessons

See All Special Reports

Lesson Extension 1
The 2004 Tsunami: The World Responds

Lesson Focus:
Catastrophes have short-term and long-term consequences, needing both immediate (short-term) and continued (long-term) responses

Extension to:
Lesson 4: "Events as a Catalyst/Trigger for Response or Non-Response" and Lesson 5: "The World Responds"

Lesson Objectives:
Building upon One World Lessons 4 and 5, students will learn that catastrophic events have short-term and long-term consequences. Students will study the 2004 South Asian tsunami as an example. When this catastrophe occurred, on December 26, 2004, news was spread widely by the media, generating an immense amount of immediate (short-term) aid and responses from around the world. Students will learn that, long after the cameras and media attention go away, catastrophic events such as the tsunami continue to have longer-term consequences that require continued, long-term responses.

Curriculum Areas:
Social studies, life skills

Time Required:
40 minutes, plus optional additional time for student research on the tsunami

Materials Needed:
Copies of "Responding to the 2004 Tsunami" reproducible (PDF); board and markers

Key Concept:
How one responds or does not respond to an event is influenced by one's perspective (Lesson 4). The way individuals respond to certain events is often a reflection of their own values and beliefs and those of the community in which they live (Lesson 5).

Lesson Background:
On December 26, 2004, a powerful underwater earthquake off the coast of Indonesia in the Indian Ocean caused a massive and destructive tidal wave known as a tsunami. The tsunami devastated coastal areas in twelve countries, killing an estimated 300,000 people and leaving approximately 5 million people homeless, primarily in the countries of Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India. The 2004 tsunami was one of the worst natural disasters in recent memory, and it resulted in an outpouring of aid and donations from nations, organizations, and individuals around the world. Countries slowly began to return to normal after the first few months, yet catastrophic events such as a tsunami present long-term problems and challenges that require continued and ongoing responses.

What You Will Do:

  • Review what students know and/or remember about the tsunami of 2004, being mindful of any direct, personal connections to the event.
  • To aid in student recall and to get the facts, you can have students research information about the tsunami and relief efforts at the Scholastic News site "After the Tsunami."
  • Discuss with students that a useful tool for sorting out the facts of any event is the "five Ws": who, what, where, when, and why.
  • Who was affected by the 2004 tsunami?
  • What happened during the tsunami?
  • Where did the tsunami take place? Where was the greatest impact?
  • When did it take place?
  • Who communicated the news?
  • Why did the event occur? Why was its impact so devastating?
  • Who responded to the event? What were ways in which people responded?
  • Write down facts about the tsunami on the board. Encourage students to discuss whether they themselves, or their families or communities, were involved in helping victims of the tsunami. What did they do?
  • Distribute the "Responding to the 2004 Tsunami" reproducible. As a class or in small groups, read about ways in which children around the country responded to the tsunami emergency (Part 1), and what was happening months after the actual event (Part 2). Explain that such catastrophic events have both short-term and long-term effects that require responses.
  • Have students discuss the questions in Part 3 of the reproducible. What are some of the ways that children can make a difference and help out where there is continued need?
  • Brainstorm with students about ways in which they could focus attention on long-term tsunami relief needs.

Reinforce the idea that events have both short-term and long-term effects. Encourage student understanding that even though an event may not be in the spotlight, or is a distant memory, people may still be experiencing its effects. The need for help can continue long after a story is in the news.

Ask students to think of, and research, other events that have happened on local, state, national, and world levels. What have been the short- and long-term effects of, and responses to, these events? Where is there a need to do more? Guide students to investigate the Web site What are some other events happening in the world for which relief is under way?

Answers to Reproducible:
Answers will vary.

Key Definitions

catastrophe (noun) a terrible and sudden disaster

consequence (noun) what happens as the result of an action

event (noun) something that happens, especially something important

media (noun, plural) various ways to communicate information to large numbers of people, such as television, radio, Internet, newspapers, and magazines

response (noun) a person or thing that causes something to happen

tsunami (noun) a very large, destructive wave caused by an underwater earthquake or volcano

View and print using Adobe Acrobat Reader® software, version 4.0 or higher. Get Adobe Reader for free.