Teaching overview

Learning points

  • Hurricanes are powerful storms that can cause a lot of damage.
  • The centre of a hurricane is called the eye.
  • Meteorologists are scientists who study the weather.
  • Forecasts enable people to prepare for severe weather events such as hurricanes.

Curriculum keywords

  • Weather systems
  • Meteorologist
  • Water systems
  • Weather forecast

Spark a discussion

  • What is a hurricane?
  • Where do hurricanes occur? How do they form?
  • Why do you think hurricanes affect some places and not others?
  • How do we predict the weather?
  • Why is it important to predict the weather?
  • How do hurricanes affect people?
  • How can we predict hurricanes?
  • How else could we study hurricanes?
  • What is the centre of the hurricane called? Can you describe it?
  • What kind of skills do you think a meteorologist needs to have?

Multimedia toolbox

Eye of a hurricane

Play this clip as the children enter the classroom to spark a discussion about hurricanes.

Sound of a hurricane

Play this clip before the film to spark a discussion about the children’s experiences of stormy weather.

Clouds

Show this visual before the film and discuss the differences between the two satellite images.

Hurricane keywords

Show this visual after the film and ask the children to use the keywords as part of a short presentation or written summary on hurricanes.

Meteorologist
A scientist who monitors the weather and predicts its behaviour.
A scientist who monitors the weather and predicts its behaviour.

Meteorologist

Show this visual after the film to reinforce key scientific language.

Activities

Make a hurricane

CREATE a model hurricane using water and food colouring, to demonstrate the way winds swirl around the eye.

Open detailed instructions

Other activity ideas

  • DESIGN a public information poster or leaflet that advises a community on how to prepare for a hurricane.
  • RESEARCH how and why hurricanes are given names.
  • WRITE a news report about a major hurricane, including information about what happened, the short- and long-term effects, and the use of technology in predicting or responding to the hurricane.
Print this sheet

Make a hurricane

Duration: 30 minutes

Resources:

  • (per group)
  • Bowl
  • Warm water
  • Food colouring
  • Stirring stick
  • Shaving foam

Key Learning:

This activity asks the students to make a model hurricane. This will support their understanding of the internal movements and physical features of real hurricanes. It also boosts their observational skills and requires them to present information as a scientific diagram.

Activity instructions:

  1. Ask the students to answer the following questions in groups:
    • Have you ever watched water as it goes down a plughole?
    • What shape does water make around the plughole?
    • What happens when the water gets closer to the plughole?
  2. Discuss the students’ answers and then relate their observations to the features of a hurricane: the water forms a spiral shape around the plughole, similar to the way that winds spin around the eye of a hurricane.
  3. Give each group the resources. Safety note: Be mindful about the temperature of the water and do not use metal or sharp objects as stirring sticks.
  4. Ask the groups to stir the water gently in the centre of the bowl. Once the water is spinning in the centre they should stop stirring.
  5. Ask one student in each group to carefully pour a few droplets of food colouring in the centre of the bowl, and observe what happens. They should be able to see a spiral shape, with the coloured water spinning around a centre point. Note: The students could use more than one colour to observe these movements.
  6. Ask the groups to place small amounts of shaving foam on top of the water, to represent clouds. Tell them to stir the water again, and observe the movement of the “clouds”. They should notice that the foam moves in a circle around the centre of the spiral.
  7. Discuss the groups’ observations as a class. You can ask the following prompt questions:
    • What shapes did you observe?
    • How did the “clouds” move?
    • How does this demonstration relate to real hurricanes?
  8. Encourage the groups to identify the different parts of their “hurricanes”, such as the centre (the eye) and the surrounding winds. Ask the students to describe their hurricane’s visible properties, and compare their model hurricane to the other groups’ models.
  9. Ask the students to make a record of their observations by drawing a scientific diagram. They should add labels and annotations to relate their diagrams to the shape and structure of a real hurricane.

Optional extra

Challenge the students to conduct further research on hurricane formation, and then add additional information to their diagrams.

Background information

  • Hurricanes are tropical storms with constant wind speeds of over 119 kilometres per hour.
  • Hurricanes form over warm water, when warm, moist air rises, leaving an area of low pressure near the water’s surface.
  • Air flowing into the area of low pressure is also warmed; it rises, and a cycle of upward-moving warm air is created.
  • The calm centre of a hurricane is called the eye. The eye is surrounded by the eye wall, where the winds are at their strongest.
  • Hurricanes form over the Caribbean, East Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean. In the Indian and western Pacific oceans, this type of storm is known as a typhoon.

Glossary

Hurricane
A tropical storm with constant wind speeds of over 119 kilometres per hour.
Eye
The centre of the hurricane around which the winds rotate.
Meteorologist
A specialist who monitors the weather and predicts its behaviour.

Explore our resources

Complete your lesson with teaching resources on weather from Tigtag.

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Discover free online CPD for primary science from Reach Out CPD.

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