Resource Type
Completion Time
About 1 period
Middle School and Up
Download and Share
Hollis Yenna
10+ poster cards (11"X 3")
Thick Markers (water-based or permanent)
Hole Punch
Yarn (~25')
Open Space
Several Rowdy Kids


This activity is 3 of 4 in a series that exposes students to the concepts of and work done by the HERMYs Project (Historical Ecology and Risk Management: Youth Sustainability):

  1. A Narrative Pantomime
  2. Environmental Risk Assessment
  3. Risk Hazard Identification
  4. Local and Traditional Knowledge & Risk

“Historical accounts of remote Alaska can only offer documentation of events that have taken place in the last 150 years or so. Ancient cultures, on the other hand, have documented thousands of years through oral history and storytelling. Although there is some added fiction to make the stories more fun, this local and traditional knowledge (LTK) allows us to examine REAL events from the perspective of ancient cultures.” – Hollis Yenna


Students will identify the primary environmental threats in their region.


  1. Prepare a set of cards with enough for each student to have one (see the excel file that goes along with this lesson). Every location may have their own risk hazards due to geography, but the point is to prepare as many different examples as possible, including risk hazards NOT associated with your location. Each card will have an example written on it. These should include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Earthquake
  • Tornado
  • Hurricane
  • Flood
  • Wild fire
  • Drought
  • Storm Surge
  • Ice shove
  • Tundra Fire
  • Blizzard
  • Tsunami
  • Threats to Subsistence (hunting/gathering)
  • Feel free to add more!
  1. For each risk-hazard, provide a card that has a definition of the phenomenon (Example: a series of vibrations in the Earth that occur due to a shift in tectonic plates) and a photograph.

  2. If the group is small, you can set this up as a matching game with the cards. Otherwise, each child should receive a card.

  3. (5 min.) Explain that the objective is to form a group of 3 – children should be looking for the matching set of risk-hazard, definition, and picture. Help struggling children to find their partners.

  4. (15 min.) Once all groups have been created, have each group read their risk-hard, then the definition, and lastly describe the picture.

  5. (10 min.) Once all of the risk-hazards have been discussed, and the children know what they are, have a discussion about which risk-hazards affect you all in your location.

  6. Pass out the already-prepared cards with the string attached. For the risk-hazards that could affect your area, choose a student to write out the name of the hazard on the card and wear it around their neck.

  7. (10 minutes) Discuss which hazards are the most common and have the students with their cards stand in order from highest risk to least risk.

Author / Credits

This lesson was developed by PolarTREC teacher Hollis Yenna <yennahjh [at]>.

Standards Other


Attachment Size
Download Lesson (PDF - 113KB)112.93 KB 112.93 KB
Download Activity Cards (PDF - 385KB)385.49 KB 385.49 KB

This program is supported by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed by this program are those of the PIs and coordinating team, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.