Texas is one of the top homeschooling states, with an estimated 175,040 homeschooled students. If your children are among this statistic, and Hurricane Harvey impacted your family, you will have to get creative with homeschooling this year. But, despite this very stressful situation, your love and innovative spirit, can ensure your family the continued benefits of homeschooling.
On the other hand, if your children attend a public or private school in affected areas, your family can temporally homeschool while schools remain closed. The state of Texas is giving evacuated students a reasonable period of time to decide where they want to enroll, without subjecting students to truancy laws. And Houston ISD won’t even open until September 11. Thus, during this time, your students can benefit from homeschooling as a continuous source of education.
As horrible as this disaster is, as a homeschool mom I have realized Harvey presents a lot of hands-on and life-experience learning. In this article, I will share ideas on how to teach science, language arts, and history using Harvey as a backdrop for your lessons.
Ask Discovery Questions
- Besides wind, what is the greatest source of damage associated with hurricanes?
- Other than a hurricane, what are other ways flooding can occur?
- What are other ways families can stock up on water for a hurricane, other than buying bottled water?
- Determining drinking water suitability by using the experiment at this link, which uses supplies you probably already have in and around your home.
- Teach how hurricanes form, using this simple experiment at Weird Science Kids.
Discuss, Compare and Contrast
- Discuss how hurricanes are categorized. Remind your children Harvey began as a tropical storm, then changed to a category 2 hurricane, increased to category 3, and finally reached category 4.
- Use Google to access information on how hurricane categories are determined.
- If your children are old enough to remember Hurricane Ike, you can bring that storm into the discussion and make contrasts and comparisons between the two storms.
Introduce Upper Level Science Concepts
Hurricane Harvey provides a great physics lesson. Newton’s Second Law and the Thermodynamics of Moist Air explain many features of hurricanes.
Simplified, here is the physics behind a hurricane: Huge amounts of wind rush towards a center, then move counterclockwise. If there’s a lot of wind, the storm can break up before it gets strong. But, if the column of air rising in the center can operate, then the storm will grow powerful. At high altitude, cool air is pumped outwards away from the storm’s center, so hotter, moist air is sucked towards the center at sea level. The moisture in this air condenses, which heats the air further, and accelerates the process. Eventually, the center becomes the eye of the hurricane.
Some top online sources to explore these concepts are Physics Central, Smithsonian Ocean Portal, and MIT.
Combining Language Arts and Science
- Ask your child to write a paper on “How To Survive A Hurricane”, no research needed, they have firsthand knowledge.
- Have older children pretend they are the mayor of Houston, Rockport, or whatever city you live in. Have them write a press release delivering safety tips and instructions to their citizens as the hurricane approaches.
- Create a hurricane related spelling list.
- Examples of words you can use are: hurricane, typhoon, cyclone, rain, flood, evacuation, emergency, etc.
Have your children define hurricane related words. You can use the spelling list above to get started, or create your own list based on your child’s cognitive abilities.
To get you started, here are Webster’s definitions for the first three words above:
- hurricane – a tropical cyclone with winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour or greater that occurs especially in the western Atlantic, that is usually accompanied by rain, thunder, and lightning, and that sometimes moves into temperate latitudes
- cyclone – a storm or system of winds that rotates about a center of low atmospheric pressure, advances at a speed of 20 to 30 miles (about 30 to 50 kilometers) an hour, and often brings heavy rain
- typhoon – a hurricane occurring especially in the region of the Philippines or the China sea
KidzSearch tells the simplified version of the story of Typhon, a gigantic half-snake monster with 100 dragon heads. This scary beast, the youngest son of Tartarus (the underworld) and Gaea (Earth), fought Zeus because Zeus had imprisoned the Titans. The story goes, Zeus hurled his lightening bolt at Typhon and cast Typhon under Mount Etna.
History – Hurricane Names
Hurricanes are named in alphabetical order. The World Meteorological Organization names them by using different sets of names depending which part of the world the storm is in. In the U.S., only women’s names were used until 1979. After 1979, the list started to alternate with both men’s and women’s names.
Ask your children to come up with a list of both girl and boy names from A to Z which they think would be good hurricane names.
Explain that if a hurricane does significant damage, its name is retired and replaced with a different name. You can access a list of retired names here to share with your kids. Ask your children if they think Harvey’s name will be retired? If so, what “H” name they think should take Harvey’s place?
These are just some ideas to help you continue your children’s education while also make the lessons meaningful to their life experiences with Hurricane Harvey.
Recovery Options for Moving Forward
If you lost school supplies due to flood damage, or because of evacuation, you can call the three-digit, 24-hour United Way referral and information helpline – 211. They will help connect you either with agencies giving out donated school supplies or local city government offices or churches they have been informed are helping Harvey victims in this manner.
If you lost computer files due to water damage, DriveSavers is offering free data recovery services.
Internet Replacement for Lost Curriculum
A multitude of free homeschooling resources on the web can take the place of destroyed curriculum. Even if you have very little, you can still make meaningful lessons for your children that teach them about the world around them that they experience each day.