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This pathfinder is designed to guide 5th and 6th grade students as they research about natural disasters and how they affect landforms around the world. Natural disasters happen every day all over the world, causing a wide variety of changes on the way our world looks. Not only do natural disaster affect the way the world looks, they also affect the way people and animals live from day to day.

Search Terms & Dewey Decimal Number | Source Links | Bottom of Page

Iowa Core Curriculum Essential Concepts and Skills

5th-Understand and apply knowledge of processes and changes on or in the earth’s land, oceans, and atmosphere.
The surface of the earth changes. Some changes are due to slow processes, such as erosion and weathering, and some changes are due to rapid processes such as landslides, volcanic eruptions, floods and earthquakes.
  • Natural disasters change the appearance of landforms around the world every day.

6th-Understand and apply knowledge of the structure and processes of the earth system and the processes that change the earth and its surface.

Tectonic plates constantly move at rates of centimeters per year in response to movements in the mantle. Major geological events, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and mountain building, are results of these plate motions.
  • The movement of tectonic plates causes natural disasters, changing the appearance or landforms

Land forms are the result of a combination of constructive and destructive forces. Constructive forces include crustal deformation, volcanic eruption, and deposition of sediment, while destructive forces include weathering and erosion.

  • The natural disaster of a volcanic eruption is a constructive force, which alters the appearance of landforms.


5th/6th-Use a variety of skills and strategies to comprehend nonfiction and informational text.
Study graphic cues:
  • Titles
  • Headings
  • Photos
  • Illustrations
  • Charts
  • Tables
  • Graphs
Use comprehension strategies:
  • Identify purpose
  • Activate prior knowledge
  • Ask and answer questions
  • Create visual images
  • Draw inferences
  • Monitor for comprehension
  • Employ fix-ups:
    • Reread
    • Read ahead
  • Identify main ideas
  • Summarize
  • Draw conclusions
  • Evaluate
  • Synthesize
  • Engage in discussion
  • Write to learn

5th/6th-Engage in the information literacy process: access, evaluate, and communicate information and ideas.

Access information:
  • Generate questions to guide the research process.
  • Narrow a topic.
  • Locate research materials through print and electronic sources and interviews.
Evaluate information:
  • Authority
  • Objectivity
  • Quality
  • Coverage
  • Currency
  • Relevance
Communicate information and ideas:
  • Use information accurately, responsibly, and ethically.
  • Incorporate research findings and adhere to a consistent format for documentation.
  • Articulate a research question or thesis statement.
  • Communicate research findings through a variety of mediums.
  • Use technology to communicate research findings.


5th/6th-Represent and analyze data using tallies, pictographs, tables, line plots, bar graphs, circle graphs and line graphs.
  • Construct and analyze frequency tables, bar graphs, picture graphs, and line plots and use them to address a question.
  • Compare different representations of the same data and evaluate how well each representation shows important aspects of the data.
  • Use their understanding of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals to construct and analyze circle graphs and line graphs.

21st Century Skills
5th/6th-Use critical thinking skills to conduct research, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate technological tools and resources.

  • Identify real-world issues and analyze technological resources for developing and refining questions for investigation.
  • Effectively use multiple technological resources to develop a systematic plan for conducting research. Develop possible solutions or a complete product to demonstrate knowledge and skills.
  • Use technology to gather, analyze, and assess data and its effectiveness to design, develop and test possible solutions that assist students in making decisions.
  • Analyze and evaluate information from a variety of perspectives and resources in order to assess multiple solutions and investigate them from differing viewpoints.

Search Terms and Dewey Decimal Numbers
While searching reference these terms and numbers to help you narrow your search.
Dewey Areas
550-Earth Sciences
551-Geology, hydrology, meteorology
553-Economic geology
807-Education, research, related topics
900-History, Geography & Biography
912-Graphic representation of earth

Keyword Search Terms
Natural disaster,Natural hazard,Geography,Geographer,Geomorphology,Geomorphologist,Earthquakes,Landslide,Volcanic eruptions,Flood,Tsunami,Blizzard,Droughts,Hailstorms,Tornadoes,Fire

Once you have narrowed your topic try the following searches
(Your natural disaster) AND land
(Your natural disaster) AND people
(Your natural disaster) AND structures
(Your natural disaster) AND animals
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Source Links
Use the following picture links to quickly find the path your are looking for on this page!



News & Media


Fiction & Literature

Ask your Librarian!


General Encyclopedias
World Book Encyclopedia (World Book, 2009)
(R 031 WOR v.1, Accessed through Hills Elementary Library Catalog)
This encyclopedia is a great place to start to get a general understanding of natural disasters. Using this source will give you short chunks of information about all natural disasters to help you narrow down your topic.
Use the guide-words at the top of each page to find the subject you are looking for. The index is also a helpful place to start, to help you decide which volumes to pull from the shelf. See the keywords and search terms above for a place to start.

Encyclopedia Britannica Online School Edition-Middle School
(Britannica, 2008) (YR 031 B UNISTAR)
This online encyclopedia is a great place to start for a general overview of your topic.
Using the keywords and search terms above to help guide your search. As you explore this site, browse through the links on each subject to find more information in the form of text, charts, graphs, images, etc.

Subject Encyclopedias
New Book of Popular Science(Grolier, 2008)
This resource will help you to continue to narrow down your topic. As you are deciding what you want to focus your research on, use this encyclopedia to find our more information on your topic.
By using the various tabs you can find information on your topic in general or more specifically. If you are looking for people related to your topic use the Bios tab and search your topic.

The Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia (Kingfisher, 2006) (YR 503 K through UNI)
This encyclopedia will help you get some general information on your topic and is a great place to start. Do not plan on getting really specific information from this source, rather use it to gather information to help you narrow your topic.
Use the keywords and search terms above to help guide you through this encyclopedia. The table of contents and index are also great place to start to guide you in the right direction.

UXL Encyclopedia of Science (Gale, 2008)

This subject encyclopedia will guide you in narrowing down your research topic. Use the keywords and search terms above to help in the search process. When using this online resource, use the Advanced search and make sure to specify that you want to search in the UXL Encyclopedia of Science in the publication search field.

**UXL Encyclopedia of Weather and Natural Disasters (Gale, 2008)**(
YR 551 U online in Data A-Z > GVRL> limit by title through UNI)
Once you have narrowed down your topic this resource will help you find more detailed information on specific natural disasters and their affect on the land around us. When using this online resource, use the Advanced search and make sure to specify that you want to search in the UXL Encyclopedia of Science in the publication search field.

Library of Natural Disasters (World Book Inc. 2007)
(YR 363 W through UNI)
This collection of reference materials will be very useful to you once you have narrowed down your topic. These text will provide you with information on how natural disasters affect land around the world. Once you have narrowed your topic, find the correct volume of this set that corresponds with your topic and use the index within that volume to further narrow down your search.
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**Google Earth**
Google Earth
. Rel. 5. Mountain View: Google, 2010. Web-Based.
Google Earth is a fantastic tool that allows you to see landforms all over the world. Images taken from satellites show you real life images of the world we live in. With Google Earth 5, you can see how the land has changed over time, the ocean floor and how it has changed and much more. If you wanted to see how the Earth has changed since the earthquake in Haiti you could go to that location and then click the clock button at the top of the screen. Once you have selected this a slider bar will allow you go forward or backward in time to see the changes. This is just one of the many features you can explore.

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Facts on File Weather & Climatology Handbook (Facts on File, 2002) (REF QC981.A49 2002 through UNI)
This source is a great place to look for people related to your topic. Using the glossary to search by last name or by field in which the person worked will aid you in your searching. You may need to search using geographer or geomorphologist as listed in the
**keywords and search terms above.**
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tornado.jpgNews & Media

El Nioo Could Whip Up More Active Tornado Season (EBSCO accessed via Iowa AEA Online through Hills Elementary)
William M., Welch. "El Nioo could whip up more active tornado season." USA Today
n.d.: Middle Search Plus. EBSCO. Web. 11 Apr. 2010.
El Nioo Could Whip Up More Active Tornado Season This article is specific to a research focus of tornadoes,but EBSCO Middle Search Plus is a great place for your to find articles related to your topic that will tie it to current and real world events. When looking for newspaper articles specifically click the Newspapers link on the left hand side of the page after you have searched to narrow it to that type. The same process can be applied to periodicals, primary sources, images,etc. Use the keywords and search terms above to aid in your search.

**For Kids: Earthquake Shortens Day** (EBSCO accessed via Iowa AEA Online through Hills Elementary)
Ornes, Stephen. "FOR KIDS: Earthquake Shortens The Day."
Science News for Kids (2010): 1. Middle Search Plus. EBSCO. Web. 11 Apr. 2010.
The artice offers information on the earthquake that struck central Chile on February 27, 2010 and discusses the cause and the aftermath of the one of the six largest earthquakes since 1900. As stated the earthquake tilted earth's axis by few centimeters and is stated to have resulted in shortening the day length. Key terms used in the study of Geophysics, are also presented.
This article was found by simply using natural disasters as a search term. When searching for your topic use the
**keywords and search terms above** or your specific natural disaster as a starting point.
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**Natural Disasters**
(DE Streaming accessed via Iowa AEA Online through Hills Elementary)
Natural Disasters
.Discovery Education, 2007. Full Video.11 April 2010. <>.
This video includes 12 segments that cover all types of natural disasters. Watch the entire video for information on all topics related to natural disasters or choose only the natural disaster you have decided to research. This video was found using the search term natural disaster. By using this broad term all videos relating to this subject were found.


Merrium Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (Merrium Webster, 2004-2006) (REF PE 1625.W36)
Keep this dictionary near by to aid with any words you might come across that you are unfamiliar with. You could also use it to familiarize yourself with the definition of landform, so you know if what your resource is talking about is in fact a landform. Use the guide words at the top to aid in your use. You may also need a table or stand to hold this very large resource.

You may also use the free online version of Merrium Webster to help with quick searches, while doing internet research.

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Earthscapes: Landforms Sculpted by Water, Wind, and Ice
Wermund, Jerry. Earthscapes: Landforms Sculpted by Water, Wind, and Ice. Buda, TX: Rockon Pub, 2003. Print.
Blank verse poetry which instructs and defines, while imparting a sense of wonder for numerous different landforms.

Valley of disaster : the Johnstown flood of 1889
Taylor, Bonnie Highsmith.
Valley of Disaster: The Johnstown Flood of 1889 (Cover-to-Cover Chapter 2 Books: Natural Disasters). Logan, Iowa: Perfection Learning, 2002. Print.
Ben and his family struggle to find a way to survive the deadly Johnstown flood of 1889.

Escaping the Giant Wave
Kehret, Peg.
Escaping the Giant Wave. First Edition ed. New York: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2003. Print.
When an earthquake creates a tsunami while thirteen-year-old Kyle is babysitting his sister during a family vacation at a Pacific Coast resort, he tries to save himself, his sister, and a boy who has bullied him for years. Includes an author's note which provides factual information on tsunamis

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librarian.jpg Ask your Librarian!

As your librarian, I am here to assist you with any and all questions you may regarding your research. Please do not hesitate to ask for assistance when looking for books in the library, online resources and any other materials that will aid you in your research process.
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