Masters of Disaster®


The American Red Cross, with generous support of the Allstate Foundation, has developed a curriculum that not only teaches students about disaster safety, but helps teachers meet their required objectives as well! We know that teachers have a lot to cover to meet the learning objectives prescribed by their school system. That's why we've developed the Masters of Disaster curriculum--to help teachers integrate important disaster safety instruction into their regular core subjects such as language arts, math, science, and social studies. This is not additional material for teachers to work into an already packed school day. Rather, the Masters of Disaster curriculum, which is aligned with the National Education Standards, supplements the lessons teachers are already teaching. At the same time it provides students with information to help them prepare for disasters and stay safe during and after a disaster in their home, school, or community.

Kids Writing.How does this work? The Masters of Disaster Curriculum Kit contains ready-to-go lesson plans, activities, and demonstrations on disaster-related topics that teachers can incorporate within core subject areas. For example, a teacher can show students how to plot latitude and longitude on a map by using the curriculum's lesson on how to track a hurricane, or augment instruction on the water cycle with activities in the lessons on floods. Or a teacher working with students on word recognition and decoding will choose to use the vocabulary section of the curriculum.

While strengthening students' core academic skills in science, math, social studies, and language arts (including reading, word comprehension, and spelling), the Masters of Disaster curriculum educates them about hazards that cause injury, death, and damage in the United States. The materials are designed for flexibility, so that teaching teams can integrate hazard-related lessons into the core academic subjects. The curriculum focuses on--

  • General disaster preparedness

  • Hurricanes

  • Floods

  • Tornadoes

  • Lightning

  • Earthquakes

Frequently Asked Questions

Key Audiences

Curriculum Format

Masters of Disaster® Frequently Asked Questions

What is Masters of Disaster®?
Masters of Disaster® is a disaster safety curriculum integrating disaster safety into Kindergarten to 8th-grade students' daily lesson plans nationwide. Children will learn how to prevent, prepare for, and respond to a disaster in their home, school, or community. The American Red Cross has developed a disaster safety curriculum for earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, lightning, and general disaster preparedness. There are three separate curricula—one for K-2, one for 3-5, and one for 6-8. The lesson plans can be integrated into core academic subjects: science, math, social studies, and language arts (including reading, word comprehension, and spelling).

What are the goals of the Masters of Disaster curriculum?

  1. To provide disaster safety instruction to students and families in kindergarten through eighth grade on the topics of—
    • General disaster preparedness
    • Hurricanes
    • Floods
    • Tornadoes
    • Lightning
    • Earthquakes


  2. To teach how and why disasters occur
  3. To help students and families know how to prepare for disasters and how to stay safe and help others during and after a disaster.

Will the Masters of Disaster curriculum require teachers to take time away from lessons in basic subjects?
No. Masters of Disaster was developed as a disaster safety curriculum for teachers to integrate into core academic subjects, including science, math, social studies, language arts, and fine arts. The curriculum will provide teachers with detailed lesson plans, activities, and demonstrations that meet the required standards for all students.

Has the Masters of Disaster curriculum been tested with teachers and students?
The Masters of Disaster curriculum was pilot-tested in the fall of 1999 in 45 locations in 23 states as well as Puerto Rico, and Guam. More than 380 teachers from 90 schools led students through the lessons and activities and then completed an evaluation of the curriculum. The evaluations were overwhelmingly positive.

Why are the American Red Cross and the Allstate Foundation bringing the disaster preparedness message to schoolchildren?
The American Red Cross and the Allstate Foundation want to build stronger and safer communities across the country. Since 1881, the American Red Cross has been a leader in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. People nationwide have been trained in disaster preparedness through the American Red Cross. Reaching into local communities, the American Red Cross has brought educational and safety training to schools, businesses, community organizations, and local governments. Now, with a generous grant from the Allstate Foundation, the American Red Cross is able to help train schoolchildren across the country in disaster safety through the Masters of Disaster curriculum.

What is the relationship of the American Red Cross with schools throughout the nation?
The American Red Cross and the nation's schools have worked together to meet the educational and service needs of young people since 1917. Today, more than 90 percent of American Red Cross chapters report a working relationship with their local school systems. With the implementation of the Masters of Disaster curriculum, the American Red Cross will continue to foster its working relationships with the nation's schools. The Masters of Disaster curriculum further emphasizes the American Red Cross commitment to preparedness education and safety for this critical audience.

Who wrote the Masters of disaster curriculum?
American Red Cross paid and volunteer staff and teams of subject matter experts, including teachers, educators, and professional content developers, produced the curriculum during summer 1999.

Who will teach Masters of Disaster?
Masters of Disaster was designed for classroom teachers to teach core academic subjects to their students through studying natural hazards. The curriculum provides teachers with hands-on activities, lesson plans, and demonstrations, incorporating disaster-related topics into the core academic subjects already being taught. Using classroom teachers to implement the Masters of Disaster curriculum allows the American Red Cross to reach more students with this vital information.

What grade level is the Masters of Disaster curriculum designed for?
The Masters of Disaster curriculum was developed to educate lower elementary (grades K-2), upper elementary (grades 3-5) and middle school (grades 6-8).

Will every teacher in Grades K-8 implement the Masters of Disaster curriculum?
Hopefully! We strongly believe in educating youth about disaster preparedness and safety.

Won't talking about disasters frighten students?
The Masters of Disaster curriculum is specifically tailored to students in K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 and is designed to impart information and skills--not to frighten students. We believe that by providing students with accurate information about disasters and disaster safety, they will be able to act intelligently and calmly should a disaster occur.

How can I make sure that the Masters of Disaster curriculum is incorporated into my community's schools?
By talking to your community's school administrators and teachers. Bringing the materials with you for school representatives to examine, and having patience. It takes time for schools to adopt new materials.

Does this curriculum meet Board of Education requirements?
Teachers are required to meet the education objectives (requirements) prescribed by their respective school system and state. The Masters of Disaster curriculum will integrate disaster safety lessons into core academic classes. [See the Standards of Learning Matrix in the Lesson Plans.]

Is Masters of Disaster Available in Spanish?
Not at this time. We must receive thorough evaluation of the first year's implementation of the curriculum before being able to justify to our funding partner the need for additional funds to have the curriculum developed in Spanish.

How much does Masters of Disaster cost?
The Masters of Disaster materials will be reasonably priced at the cost of production—not to generate revenue for the American Red Cross. The materials will be presented as a complete kit in a sturdy carrying/storage box with handles. Kits for each of the three grade levels will include a book of lesson plans for the teacher; a book with activities that can be reproduced for students; a large, reusable poster; a video; and certificates that the teacher can personalize for students. The kits for K-2 and 3-5 will also contain stickers that the teacher can give out to students and an order form for a free copy of a CD-ROM to enhance certain lessons.

How do I get the Masters of Disaster Curriculum Kit?
The Masters of Disaster materials will be available through local American Red Cross chapters in July 2000. Local chapters will place their Masters of Disaster orders through the General Services Division (GSD) through the regular chapter order process.


Masters of Disaster® Key Target Audiences

While teachers in your community are your primary target audience, you should also market to groups such as school principals and resource/mentor teachers, school district curriculum specialists, the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), local teachers' union, after-school centers, and others interested in the safety of children and families.

Teachers are the frontline users of the Masters of Disaster® curriculum. In pilot tests around the country, in 23 states as well as Guam and Puerto Rico, teachers were overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the Masters of Disaster curriculum and reported that they and their students found the lessons and activities interesting, educational, and fun!

Principals want students and families to stay as safe as possible and to be prepared for disasters that can happen anywhere, at anytime, often without warning. Principals can influence teachers to adopt the curriculum.

Resource/Mentor Teachers, who often work with new or less experience teachers in finding creative and innovative ways to teach lessons, will find Masters of Disaster curriculum materials a tremendous resource. These teachers can serve as in-service trainers, and can influence others to adopt the curriculum.

Curriculum Specialists are also looking for new and creative ways to meet school district or state teaching requirements. The Standards of Learning Matrix in the front of each curriculum kit clearly defines how Masters of Disaster helps meet such requirements. Curriculum Specialists have a great deal of influence on acceptance of using the Masters of Disaster curriculum district-wide, in all schools and all grade levels for which it was designed.

Parent Teacher Associations and after-school centers are also advocates for disaster safety education. They are often very influential in the adoption of new curriculum and should be included in school-based meetings.


Masters of Disaster® Curriculum Format

The lesson plans for specific disasters are divided into KNOW and DO sections. KNOW lesson plans concentrate on the causes and science of a particular natural disaster and how to prepare for it, while DO lesson plans teach how to stay safe. All lesson plans contain hands-on activities. The curriculum includes information on how to prepare a family disaster plan, how to make a disaster supplies kit, and how to hunt for hazards at home and at school. It also includes interesting and interactive lessons on what causes floods, hurricane and tornado winds, lightning science, and making a school more resistant to earthquake damage. (Fire safety is not treated separately because many other excellent teaching materials already deal with this topic.)

The Masters of Disaster® curriculum is specifically tailored for lower elementary (K-2), upper elementary (3-5), and middle school (6-8) classes. For each of the three class groups there is a customized kit* that contains--

  • A book of lesson plans for teachers.
  • A book of reproducible activity sheets for teachers to copy and give to students.
  • A video featuring students modeling disaster safety behavior and working on Masters of Disaster activities.
  • A large classroom poster that challenges students with disaster-related trivia questions.
  • Stickers for teachers to distribute as they choose. [for K-2 and 3-5 only]
  • Certificates for teachers to customize and distribute as they choose.
  • A form to order a free copy of "The Notagains" CD-ROM, which supplements lesson plans. [for K-2 and 3-5 only]
The lesson plans are presented in a two-column format. The wider right column contains the lesson descriptions; the estimated time required for setting up, conducting, and wrapping up; and the activities for the students that reinforce the lesson learning objectives. Answers are printed in red. The left column contains the materials needed for activities and symbols that quickly alert the teacher to activities, curriculum links, wrap-ups, home connections, and opportunities to distribute stickers to students. Teaching notes straddle both columns.

*The Masters of Disaster curriculum is available as a complete kit (K-2, 3-5, or 6-8) through the local American Red Cross chapter. Kit posters, stickers, and certificates are also available for separate order through chapters as well.

For additional information on the Masters of Disaster curriculum, please visit the American Red Cross Web site at

Masters of DisasterTM An alliance between the American Red Cross and the Allstate® Foundation supporting disaster safety education for students and their families.