Disaster Preparation and Response Toolkit

Grade Level: 
PreK, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Disaster: Human Made
Disaster: Human-Made
Disaster: Natural
Ideas, lessons, and information to guide students and families as they address the issues of disaster preparedness and relief Photo Credit: Wildfire by Daniel Stark is licensed under CC BY 2.0

When disaster strikes, whether caused by nature or humans, it is a time of trauma for the victims. Because we empathize with the victims, disasters bring out the humanitarian spirit of individuals and communities. The resources here provide opportunities to discuss our response to disaster and explore actions that young people can take before and after disaster strikes. Link to Lesson Plans

Write Words of Encouragement to Victims of a Disaster

A disaster can claim the lives of families, residents, devastate homes, or interrupt the supply of basic needs. A frightening event may rob children of a sense of security. Learning to Give encourages young people to share their time and talent in a unique project with many ties to learning--through words and pictures of encouragement sent directly to an aid agency in the area of the disaster to be distributed to children who need moral support.

Activity Suggestion: Let young people in the area know that your hearts and kind wishes are with them in support and encouragement:

  • write a letter that says you care,
  • write one word of hope attached to a piece of art. (Conduct a little research in the history of the area, learn about the culture of the people affected, learn a few words in their language),
  • write a poem, or
  • draw a picture.

Put these creative wishes in an envelope and send them to the aid agency to be distributed to children or families. This is a creative way to share a little hope and let them know that people around the world are thinking of them. The Disaster Relief lesson plans below empower students to explore motivations and creative ways for giving treasure.

Note: About a month after a disaster, the most valuable help from a young person may be moral support. For example, a school in Atlanta was matched with a school in Japan after the tsunami. The children learned to write some Japanese characters for words such as “cheer up” “How are you?” “What is your name?” They sent cards with pictures and messages to Japanese children attending school in a shelter. The cards were very much appreciated. Prepare youth that they may not get a response. The recipients are busy and overwhelmed and may not have resources to respond.

More project ideas from Learning to Give's service-learning partner generationOn: Emergency prep and response projects for Kids and for Teens

Provide Help Before Disaster Strikes

How can we give our help before the disaster strikes? Some questions for youth to explore in their service-learning project:

  1. What are the potential disasters in your area?
  2. What are other disasters in other areas (geography and people)?
  3. How can your family prepare for the potential disaster?
  4. What are the needs in your community to prepare for disasters?
  5. Are there persecuted populations/potential victims who would benefit from advocacy?
  6. How can you help others prepare (information, kits, physical help)?

Activity Suggestion: Plan ahead for a Disaster: Create a Family or Individual Plan for your family or others in the community.
Before you get started on building a disaster kit it is important to understand what disasters you need to prepare for and how to create a plan for your family or another group in need. Follow the link to understand why disaster preparedness is so important, what disasters you are most vulnerable to, and how you can begin the process to plan and prepare for future disasters. 
Now it’s time to create a plan! Follow the link to begin building your plan. 
Be Prepared: Build a Disaster Preparedness Kit
Follow the links below to begin building the kit that is right for you or your family. 
Red Cross

Disaster Relief Lessons

Learning to Give offers classroom lessons on the topic of disaster relief, related to natural and human-made disasters. Like all Learning to Give lessons, they are aligned with and coded to state academic standards and CCSS. 

Link to Lessons