Natural disasters can be extremely stressful and frightening for anyone impacted either directly or indirectly. Students are likely to process the traumatic experiences in different ways. This activity is designed for students who have been directly impacted by a natural disaster. Students learn from the lived experiences of other young people and from the response of their community.

Year level



60 minutes


In class activity

SEL Competencies



Learning intention

Students use lived experience to evaluate how others have coped with natural disasters. They reflect on the strategies they have used and could use in the future.

Key outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify that they are not alone in their experiences and feelings

  • reflect on the coping strategies they have used

  • describe coping strategies they could use in the future.

Materials needed

  • Access to the article ‘How to deal with the stress of bushfires, floods, earthquakes and cyclones’

  • Paper and pens, or electronic device, for writing

Mapped to

Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education

  • Analyse factors that influence emotional responses and devise strategies to self-manage emotions (AC9HP8P06)

  • Plan and implement strategies, using health resources, to enhance their own and others’ health, safety, relationships and wellbeing (AC9HP8P10)

  • Evaluate emotional responses in different situations to refine strategies for managing emotions (AC9HP10P06)

  • Plan, justify and critique strategies to enhance their own and others’ health, safety, relationships and wellbeing (AC9HP10P10)

  • Participate in physical activities that promote health and social outcomes to design and evaluate participation strategies for themselves and others (AC9HP10M05)

Australian Curriculum: General Capabilities

  • Personal and Social Capability

    • Social awareness

    • Social management

    • Self-awareness

    • Self-management

  • Critical and Creative Thinking

  • Inquiring

NSW PDHPE Syllabus

  • Assesses their own and others’ capacity to reflect on and respond positively to challenges (PD5-1)

  • Examines and demonstrates the role help-seeking strategies and behaviours play in supporting themselves and others (PD4-2)

  • Researches and appraises the effectiveness of health information and support services available in the community (PD5-2)

  • Plans, implements and critiques strategies to promote health, safety, wellbeing and participation in physical activity in their communities (PD5-7)

Victorian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education

  • Plan and use strategies and resources to enhance the health, safety and wellbeing of their communities (VCHPEP130)

  • Plan and implement strategies for connecting to natural and built environments to promote the health and wellbeing of their communities (VCHPEP131)

  • Identify and critique the accessibility and effectiveness of support services based in the community that impact on the ability to make healthy and safe choices (VCHPEP145)

  • Evaluate situations and propose appropriate emotional responses and then reflect on ‘Plan, implement and critique’ strategies to enhance the health, safety and wellbeing of their communities (VCHPEP149)

Show details

Activity 1

Exploration: You're not alone

30 minutes

This activity has been created for students who have been directly affected by a natural disaster.

In preparation for this lesson, it is suggested you access Be You's article 'Impact of natural disasters on mental health'.

Exploration: You’re not alone

  1. Explain to students that if they have been personally affected by a natural disaster they might be feeling lots of different emotions, such as shock, fear, stress, helplessness, sadness or even anger. It’s important to remind students that they are not alone in having these feelings, and to reach out for support if they are struggling.

  2. Provide students with access to or printed copies of the article ‘How to deal with the stress of bushfires, floods, earthquakes and cyclones’.

  3. Display and discuss, in turn, each of the seven strategies identified in the article:

    • Talk about how you’re feeling

    • Spend time with family and friends

    • Make time to chill

    • Focus on what you can control

    • Keep a regular routine

    • Turn to the community

    • Get extra support.

  4. For each strategy, discuss with students:

    • Why might it be helpful for dealing with the stress of a natural disaster?

    • Does it resonate with them? If so, what did/does this look like for them?

Tip: If students are using individual devices, encourage them to explore the links under each heading. They might have other ideas that aren’t included.

Activity 2

Reflection: Student article

30 minutes

  1. Ask students to write an article, reflecting on how they were impacted by the natural disaster.

  2. Students might want to include their reflections on the coping strategies they used, could have used, wanted to use or continue to use.

  3. Invite students to share their article with the school community, highlighting their own resilience and that of their family. Investigate other sharing opportunities – for example, the local services or newspaper.

Additional: Invite students to adopt’s article style, using headings, quotes and tips.


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