In this activity, students will build a tabletop village and use
it to visualize the relative height and affects of gigantic
waves called tsunamis.
WHAT YOU NEED
WHAT TO DO
- Tremors Behind Tsunamis (print and copy)
- A map of the world
- Small cardboard gift boxes or oak tag
- Construction paper
- Tape or glue
- Colored markers
- Read Tremors Behind Tsunamis to give students
background on tsunamis and where they are likely to occur.
Some students may to wish look in additional sources for more
information on the topic.
- Explain to students that the class will be making a replica
of a seaside fishing village or port city to help them visualize
the massive size of tsunamis and the destruction they can
- Divide students into small groups, having each group build a
different section of the village or city. Encourage students to
decide, as a class, which group will make buildings, land area,
- Suggest that students make some buildings more than one
story high. Later the class can decide how high a story would
be in actual height.
- When groups are done, have them assemble the village or
city. Before placing the tsunami, they should speculate
how high a tsunami wave would reach in the model.
- Have students use the model to discuss what the tsunami
would do to the village or city, the affect on the people who
live there, and what could be done to prepare for future
- Have students write a newspaper article giving geographic
reasons why your community would probably never experience
a tsunami or might experience one.
- Traditional Japanese ideas about the source of gigantic
waves that periodically come ashore and wreck Japanese
coastal villages are found in the book The Big Wave by Pearl S.
Buck. Have students read the book and discuss what the
villagers believed caused the big wave. Encourage them to
support their ideas with quotes that explain the attitudes of
the villagers toward the overwhelming catastrophes they
experienced from killer waves from the sea.
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