Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll

Flash!  Crash! Before the next thunderstorm, grab this book, Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll by Franklyn M. Branley & illustrated by True Kelley and learn what makes storms so awe inspiring.
The sky lights up and thunder booms.  Learn why lightning strikes and how to be safe in a storm. Did you know that lightning bolts can be over a mile long? Or that they may come from clouds that are ten miles high? Branley(1999) writes, “People used to think that lightning was the fiery fingers of an angry god.  They thought the god made thunder when he scolded and roared”(pg. 28).  Lightning and thunder can seem scary-so scary that people used to think that angry gods sent thunderstorms to Earth to punish them.  Now when we see storms coming, we know not to be afraid and know what to do.  We know that lightning is actually a huge spark caused by electricity inside a cloud. Storms can be scary, but not if you know what causes them. Grab this book by veteran science team Franklyn Branley and True Kelley and learn what causes the flash, crash, rumble, and roll of thunderstorms!

Curriculum Connections
In the area of earth science, the  Virginia Science SOL’s for grades K-3  stresses the importance of  understanding the basic weather patterns, the relationship between the sun and the earth,  and phases of the moon.  Flash, Crash, Rumble , and Roll is appropriate for multiple grade levels and could be used to directly address SOL’s K.8a, 2.6a, and 2.6b.

If you would like to create a rumble in your classroom and find out more about thunderstorms,  here are a few suggestions for grades K-3:

  • Read the story aloud with the students and talk about what is going on in each picture.  Ask questions throughout the story. 
  • Make a rain gauge:  1.  You will need a clear plastic bottle, scissors, a ruler, a permanent marker, and paper.  2.  Using the ruler and marker, make several marks at the quarter-inch intervals going up the bottle.  3.  Next time there is a storm, place your rain gauge in the open (not near a building or under a tree).  To keep it from blowing away, you might attach it to a stake.  After the storm is over, record how much water is in your rain gauge.  Then empty the container.  4.  Repeat step three after each storm for a month.  Compare your findings with the average monthly rainfall for your area or the recorded rainfall for a particular storm.
  • Make a cloud:  You will need a few ice cubes, a dash of salt, a saucer, a glass jar, and some hot water.  1.  Place the ice cubes and salt in the saucer. (The salt helps the ice melt quickly, so the saucer becomes very cold).  2.  Rinse the jar in hot water.  Then fill it halfway with hot water.  3.  Place the saucer over the mouth of the jar.  You will see a misty cloud quickly form between the water and the saucer as the warm water evaporates, then meets the cool air near the ice cubes and condenses.  After a minute or so, lift up the saucer and look at the bottom.  You’ll notice it is covered with drops of water.  If they fell, they would be just like raindrops.

Additional Resources
Try these websites where you’ll find lesson plans, worksheets, activities and coloring pages to aid your earth science education quest.

Book:  Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll
Author:  Franklyn M. Branley
Illustrator:  True Kelley
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Publication Date:  1999 (Revised)
Pages:  32 pages
Grade Range:  K-3
ISBN-13:  978-0064451796