Natural Disasters

a project for Participle Adjectives

In this project, students will learn about, compare, and generally discuss natural disasters and the effects they have on our world. In doing so, students will use PASSIVE AND ACTIVE ADJECTIVES. The way this project is written presumes students are already familiar with various natural disasters. If you’d like them to delve deeper, or if they don’t know much yet, you can adapt this project into a webquest.

Assign students or pairs of students a natural disaster. You can choose any or all of these:

  • avalanches
  • blizzards
  • drought
  • earthquakes
  • floods
  • hurricanes/typhoons
  • landslides
  • meteor strikes
  • ice storms & hail
  • sandstorms
  • severe thunderstorms
  • sinkholes
  • tornadoes
  • tsunamis
  • volcano eruptions
  • wildfires
Feel free to combine similar disasters (such as avalanches and landslides). All the students will be learning about all of the disasters; the students assigned to a particular disaster will simply be in charge of making and keeping notes for that disaster.

The class should brainstorm every noun they can think of that might be involved in these disasters. Write down the ideas on the board in the front of the room (all with the same color marker/chalk). Here are some nouns to get them started: clouds, hot air, beaches, trees, houses, families.

Next, brainstorm all the verbs involved. Write these down with a different color. Here are some ideas: fall, drench, destroy, blow, rage, shake, frighten. For both the nouns and the verbs, include words that fit at least one disaster, but know that most of the words will not apply to every disaster.

Students should then match verbs to nouns. If the noun is the cause of the verb, turn the verb into an active adjective (such as raging wind or falling ash). If the noun is affected by the verb, turn the verb into a passive adjective (such as frightened families or rescued children). There are countless possible combinations, and the students certainly don’t need to do multiple combinations that have the same or similar meanings.

With each combination of verb-turned-adjective and noun, individuals or pairs should write it down on their own papers if it matches the disaster assigned to them. For example, the students who have earthquakes and the ones how have tsunamis should write down trembling ground (or something similar).

That approach started with things generally involved with disasters and then filtering them to specific disasters, but after students have done so, let them consider the disasters they were assigned to to come up with more adjective-noun combos. If they think of any, they should share them with the class in case another individual or pair can apply it or something similar to their own disaster.

Once all this is done, revisit some of the similarities between disasters. e.g.: What are the different disasters that happen in coastal areas, and what do they have in common? What do the cold-related disasters have in common? etc.

You can expand this into a larger project. For younger students, maybe they could make little posters with drawings and a few facts about each of their assigned disasters.

With older students, this may be a good time to discuss serious issues, like how we can support displaced families or repair efforts post-disaster.

For more on Passive & Active Adjectives, check out our Passive Series or our Verbals Series. Adding -ed or -ing to the end of a verb can turn it into an adjective (when placed before a verb or after to be). Active adjectives express that their nouns cause an action or state, while passive adjectives express how the noun was effected by that action. Watch the video to see the details. You can even go beyond the video with printouts, slideshows, and grammar guides, all designed to help teachers better reach their students!

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