Young Children’s Demonstrated Understanding of Hurricanes

  • Teresa K. Buchanan
  • Renée M. Casbergue
  • Jennifer J. Baumgartner


We examine young children’s knowledge of disasters in the immediate aftermath of hurricanes, Katrina and Rita. Knowledge was measured by teacher reports of child-initiated spontaneous play in the classrooms and by children’s responses to an interview designed to measure their knowledge of hurricanes in general and Katrina and Rita in particular. Findings indicated age-related differences, with older children demonstrating more knowledge than younger children. Analysis of teacher-reported specific activities indicated that children’s demonstrated knowledge was different by region (with children more directly impacted by hurricanes demonstrating more knowledge of hurricanes than children less directly impacted) and seemed to reflect the stages of disasters: preparation, response, and recovery.


School District Play Activity Teacher Survey Early Childhood Classroom Dramatic Play 



This chapter is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0555387 and the Louisiana Board of Regents (PI: T. Buchanan). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this chapter are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of these organizations.

Diane C. Burts and Timothy Page were co-investigators on this project. Diane Burts’ work on the materials and protocol as well as her work with Timothy Page to develop the stories for the interviews were critically important to this project. Virginia Gil-Rivas provided the tools used to measure teachers’ psychological well-being, training, and teachers’ and children’s hurricane-related personal experiences. Ana Morales provided invaluable assistance throughout the entire project. We are grateful to these wonderful colleagues. We appreciate the hard work of research team members Rhonda Norwood, Susheel Brahmeshwarkar, Sharbari Dey, and Kyung-Ran Kim. We are deeply indebted to project consultant David Klahr who offered critically important support and insight and to the teachers and children who made this study possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Teresa K. Buchanan
    • 1
  • Renée M. Casbergue
    • 2
  • Jennifer J. Baumgartner
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Educational TheoryPolicy and Practice and Life Course and Aging CenterBaton RougeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Educational Theory, Policy and PracticeLSUBaton RougeUSA
  3. 3.Division Family, Child and Consumer SciencesSchool of Human Ecology, Louidiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

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