Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 19, 2013

SALISBURY — Clairetta Adkins, 11, is fascinated by hurricanes.
“They form off a dark cloud close to the center of the ocean, and they (swirl) around, almost like a tornado,” she said. “They’re pretty dangerous. They can destroy homes and people.”
Last week, Clairetta got to learn more about hurricanes and share what she found with other children at Hanford Dole Elementary School.
She and her classmates wrote and illustrated storybooks about natural disasters before reading them to younger students.
“Once they get to fifth grade, they’re already going to know about hurricanes and all of the weather,” Clairetta said. “They might be more interested, and they might become storm catchers.”
Sally Schultz, fifth grade teacher at Hanford Dole Elementary School, said the project is a new one this year.
“One of our standards in fifth grade is weather and understanding natural disasters, so I figured what better way than to have them teach it?” Schultz said.
She said the children were excited about the idea of teaching others. They discussed how to pick out information that would be relevant to – and not too scary for – younger children.
“One thing that we had had some trouble with was putting it in our own words,” Schultz said. “We talked about putting it into terms that kindergartners and first graders could understand, so this way, it’s helping them understand it better, too.”
For bonus points, the students could add an index, a table of contents and a glossary to their books. The school’s librarian (media coordinator), Suzanne Crockett, and its technology facilitator, Tina Rutledge, also helped the children with the project.
“They went through how to do research and talked about credible sources and what’s fact vs. opinion,” Schultz said.
Last Monday, the class looked through different books about several kinds of natural disasters. On Tuesday, the students each researched the natural disaster that most interested him or her.
The students wrote their books on Wednesday and added drawings on Thursday. Then, they presented them to kindergartners through second graders during Friday story times.
Christopher Ritchie, 10, wrote about tsunamis. He said his book would include “where a natural disaster comes from and what to do when it comes.”
Dajun Archie, 9, chose earthquakes as the topic of his storybook.
“I’m going to be including how they start, where they mostly happen and how scientists know when they come,” Dajun said. Reading from the notes for his book, he explained, “A seismologist measures an earthquake’s strength and magnitude.”
Liberty Hill, 10, said she picked blizzards because she thinks they’re “kind of cool.”
“On my birthday a couple years ago, I was caught in a blizzard,” Liberty said. “We were going to get on the highway, and we spun because there was so much ice.”
She said the experience was scary but interesting for her, and she loves that she gets the chance to teach other children about hurricanes.
“I’m just going to include how they happened, what causes them and other facts about them,” Liberty said. “I’m going to tell them to find shelter immediately. These are winter storms, and they can be dangerous.”

Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.