Storms can be upsetting, but sometimes even life threatening. Lets look at some ways to help children look at a storm differently and calm the waters.
*Make a thunderstorm
Sit the children in a large circle. This thunderstorm is to re-create the noise associated with the sound. The teacher stands in the center of the circle and begins by pointing to one child at a time. As the teacher turns the next child joins in the activity. It begins by simply rubbing the hands together. The noise builds up as the children join in. When the teacher gets to the beginning student, they change from rubbing the hands together to snapping the fingers. Again the noise level increases and it is fun because the children are making the noise. The next step is the small clapping of hands. The crescendo builds to open slap on the floor. Then the whole storm reverses and ends with the quiet hand rubbing.
Use this activity on bright clear days to remind children that storms build up and eventually they calm down and pass. They are not a permanent fixture.
*Teach them proper safety procedures
Depending on where one lives storms are very different. If a tornado siren is going off remind the children that we know what to do. Follow the appropriate guidelines. When they ask about their families it is important to remind them that they heard the warnings and know what to do as well. Do not tell them that they are safe, that may not be true and it is a terrible risk to lose creditability with a child who may desperately need the support of a teacher.
If there is a blizzard the concerns may be different. Again, talk about preparedness and then the change the focus to other activities.
*Practice lights out
Everyone is the class has a small flashlight assigned to them. It is important that not everyone shines the lights at the same time. This is a lesson in conservation. It is fun to do it many times when there is not a power issue. When the children are out on the playground shut the drapes and create lights out. Practice with the flashlight rules. Then if a power outage occurs the children will have practiced and the fear will be less.
This may truly be the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher. The ability to distract the children and engage them in an activity when everything outside the classroom ceases to exist. Some teachers can do it with the way they read a story, or create an art project or sing songs. It won’t be the same for each teacher, but great teachers have a distraction technique.
So be prepared for the worst and expect the best in the classroom and the storm should remain outdoors.