7 Lessons for Kids Inspired by the Icelandic Volcano

April 20, 2010

I love using real events to teach from – this goes for both at home with my own children, and in the classes I teach at our local co op. This week I will be using some aspects of the Icelandic volcano erupting in my middle school economics class, and as I started planning for that, I realized how many other lessons can be taught around the topic, so here are my ideas:

1. Economics

I will be getting my class to think about the economic implications of the volcano – I will ask them who is impacted economically and will steer them in the right direction so that they consider the impact on the airline industry, people stranded on vacation who aren’t back at their jobs, countries who export perishable goods etc

2.  Linguistics

The volcano’s name is so unusual to us westerners that it will provide a great study of how different languages are – and why. Let the kids learn how to pronounce it – click here for an article to help you.

3. Earth Science

What a perfect time to study volcanoes and how they operate. It will be so much more real to children while this is headline news.  And there are wonderful photos of the volcano you can share with them.

4. Geography

Now is a perfect time to study Iceland – and the countries the ash is blowing over. There are nice simulations of the way the ash is moving and you can get the kids to work out which countries it is most affecting. Use Google Earth to take a ‘closer’ look at these countries.

5. Creative Writing

Let them imagine they are a traveller ‘stuck’ somewhere because the airports are closed. They can write their adventures trying to take another route home, or their feelings as they just wait and wait. Or they can pretend they are in Iceland and can write about the actual eruptions.

6. History

Compare the effect of this eruption with other eruptions in history like Vesuvius when it decimated Pompeii or when Mount St Helen’s erupted.

7. Ecology

How does all that ash in the air affect the world we live in? As humans we can wear masks and move to other areas, but what about the plants and animals in the nearby areas? How are their habitats affected? Will there be any long term consequences?

I hope that gave you some ideas … please post any more you may have in the comments section.