What is a Natural Disaster? - Top Tips for Teaching Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are a diverse and highly relevant topic which covers key elements of scientific and geographical study. Teaching natural disasters provides the opportunity to cover the key types of natural disaster, the structural changes that they can make to our planet and weather patterns, and the impact that they can have on communities living around the world. When teaching natural disasters, there is capacity to examine both the scientific reasons behind the disaster and also the devastating impact that disasters have on families and communities. One interesting angle when planning lessons is to look back at natural disasters from ten or twenty years ago, such as the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, and examine how communities are still affected by the magnitude of these disasters today.


Flooded town

BBC Active’s educational videos are an invaluable resource for delivering information about natural disasters. The true force of a natural disaster such as tsunamis, volcanoes, earthquakes or floods will be captured far more effectively on video and will ensure that students are instantly engaged and captivated; an essential ingredient for successful and memorable learning. The sheer strength and power of a natural disaster is terrifying to watch, and students will be far more focused on learning about the science behind these disasters through visual stimulation. With the sensory experience of video, students will also be far more likely to retain factual information after the lesson has finished.


BBC Active provides high-quality, engaging and informative videos which are widely used as a teaching resource in educational establishments across the country. Many children are auditory or visual learners, and video is therefore one of the most important resources available in classrooms today. BBC Active videos are renowned for their excellent quality and educational value and can bring a diverse range of topics to life. This is a selection of BBC Active’s videos which focus on teaching natural disasters:

Earth: The Power of the Planet

This stunning and ground-breaking series examines how natural forces shape and alter our planet’s landscape and climate. Using satellite imagery and CGI, the series includes episodes which focus on Rare Earth, Volcanoes, Atmosphere and Ice. Global science and the impact of natural disasters is brought to life in a compelling and captivating way.

Wild Weather

The sheer power of the world’s wildest weather is brought to life in this visually breath-taking educational series. With episodes covering wind, wet, cold and hot conditions, this series examines life in our planet’s most extreme climates and recreates dramatic storms and devastating floods. With each episode we are reminded about the ultimate strength and power of wild weather and natural disasters.


Tsunamis are among the most devastating natural disasters that our planet has ever seen. The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami was one of the biggest natural disasters in recorded history and tsunamis have had significant media coverage over the last few years, which is why they always feature when teaching natural disasters. This memorable video examines the terrifying force and scale of tsunamis, and brings the impact of natural disasters close to home when the presenters travel to Japan to meet child survivors of the 2011 disaster. Tsunami is part of the natural world series Fierce Earth - Series

Ocean of Volcanoes

Natural disaster - Volcano Witness the spectacular visual journey of an underwater volcano and learn about how these natural disasters can entirely reshape the structure of land and the emergence of marine life. This educational video will explore how the changing shape of the South Pacific has given life to some wonderfully unusual creatures and clearly shows the significant impact that natural disasters have on both the history and the future of our planet.

Teaching about natural disasters is an excellent opportunity to engage students about global science, geography and history. BBC Active educational videos will enthral and captivate students by using compelling narrative and stunning visuals to educate students about what a natural disaster is. Where presentations and written information that cover this topic can appear a little static and dry, using educational videos will reinforce the visual power and strength of natural disasters which will automatically spark interest and curiosity.


BBC Active Video for Learning offers licences for each video title, enabling you to show them in your classroom, lecture theatre or school hall. The licences allow the videos to be shown in DVD format, and digital licensing is also available if the content needs to be available online.