Circling the Cyclone

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  • Title: Circling the Cyclone: Children’s Understanding of Natural Disasters through the Arts
  • Author(s): Ute Haring, Reesa Sorin, Nerina J. Caltabiano
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Common Ground Open
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Pedagogy and Curriculum
  • Keywords: Natural Disasters, Cyclone Preparedness, Children, Aboriginal Rainbow Serpent Myths, Cyclone Poetry, Qualitative Research
  • Volume: 25
  • Issue: 4
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 2327-7963 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-9133 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Haring, Ute, Reesa Sorin, and Nerina J. Caltabiano. 2018. "Circling the Cyclone: Children’s Understanding of Natural Disasters through the Arts." The International Journal of Pedagogy and Curriculum 25 (4): 1-15. doi:10.18848/2327-7963/CGP/v25i04/1-15.
  • Extent: 15 pages


Natural disasters can occur unexpectedly with devastating effects as attested by recorded history documents. They have caused immense suffering and destruction. In recent years, natural disasters have increased due to climate change. Further, the need for public awareness of catastrophic events has also increased, along with the media push to prepare for these events. Disaster preparedness has reduced loss of life and property, and children have demonstrated that they have the capacity to be actively involved in disseminating important and useful disaster information and the ability to assist with disaster preparedness in their families. Therefore, disaster preparedness is now an established part of the school curricula. However, while the topic of natural disasters is increasingly being included in school curricula, teachers may still feel uneasy introducing students to this topic. If they have not experienced a natural disaster and are not aware of the severity of disasters, teachers may lack the necessary information to best educate and support children. Further, teachers may need to tread a fine line between transmitting facts and shocking students with the emotive results of disasters. This is further exacerbated by media reporting. Arising from a document study of children’s drawings from the 2006 Cyclone Larry natural disaster in tropical north Queensland, Australia, and research into cyclones, this paper presents strategies, including a poem, for teachers to introduce natural disasters to students in the upper primary school years. It may help to facilitate understanding about natural disasters and preparedness for these occurrences.