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Tornado by Betsy Byars



Author: Betsy Byars
Illustrated by Doron Ben-Ami

ISBN-10: 0-06-442063-9

Summary: As they wait out a tornado in their storm cellar, a family listens to their farmhand tell stories about the dog that was blown into his life by another tornado when he was a boy.

Unit and lapbook components prepared by Rose Ann Kuhns


Lapbook Templates
Photos contributed by Louise Fadina


Where is Tornado Alley? Shutterfold
Tornado Stationary (primary)
Vocabulary Trifold
Tornado Stationary (traditional)
Bible Verses Copywork
Tornado Matchbooks
Tornado Story Pocket
Draw a Tornado Simple Fold
Book Log Fan
Silver Dollar Turtles File Folder
Root Vegetables & Hail
First Aid for Scratches
Dogs Tab Book
President Lincoln Layer Book Foods from Corn Accordion Products from Corn Accordion


Chapter 1:


Social Studies - 


President Lincoln - 

In our story, the boy's father was named after Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. 

Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809 in a small, one-room cabin in Kentucky to Thomas and Nancy Lincoln.  Neither of his parents were educated, so when Abe eventually went to school to learn to read and write, his parents must have been very proud of him.  But he wasn't in school for long. 

When Abe was 7 years old, his family moved to Indiana.  Thomas Lincoln was opposed to slavery, which at that time was legal in Kentucky, and that was one reason he decided to move the family to Indiana where slavery was not allowed.  There was no school near their new home. 

About a year later, his mother died and soon afterwards his father married again.  Eventually there were enough pioneers in their area that a school and church were built, and Abe and his sister were able to once again attend school.  Abe grew to be a tall young man and read everything he could get his hands on.  He would walk for miles to borrow a book from someone. 

Abe Lincoln only had about 18 months of formal school--everything else he learned on his own by reading.  As he approached adulthood, he began to read law books and listened to men talk about politics.   He grew very tall and became known for his honesty.

When he struck out on his own, he moved to Illinois.  When he was 25 years old, he had was elected the Illinois General Assembly (the Illinois government).  In 1832, he became a captain in the Black Hawk War.  After the brief war, Abe continued his studies and eventually became a lawyer.  During his entire career as a lawyer, he was involved in over 5,000 cases.

In 1842, he married Mary Todd.  They eventually have four sons, but only one lived to adulthood.

In 1846, Abraham Lincoln was elected as a U.S. Representative and served one term.   He continued to be lawyer until the mid-1850s, when he re-entered the world of politics.  Abraham Lincoln helped to start the Republican Party, which is still in existence today.   In May of 1860, he was nominated to be the Republican candidate for President.  In November of that year, Abraham Lincoln was elected as the United State's 16th President.
In 1861, the Civil War began and the country was divided over the issue of whether or not slavery should be legal in America.  America divided--some states, mostly those in the south, wanted slavery.  Other states,mostly those in the north, did not.  Even families were divided over the issue of slavery. 

In January of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which said that "all persons held as slaves within any State....shall be....thenceforward and forever free..."  President Lincoln gave the slaves their freedom, but the war continued on for two more years. 

Finally, General Robert E. Lee, the general of the southern states, signed a surrender on April 9, 1865.  The North had won.  Sadly, just 5 days later, President Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth and died the next day.    In December of 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished slavery in America.


Have your student memorize the Gettysburg Address, given by President Lincoln on the 19th of November, 1863 at a ceremony to dedicate the Gettysburg Battlefield as a national cemetery.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate - we cannot consecrate - we cannot hallow - this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Go along books:
Abe Lincoln:  Frontier Boy (COFA) by Augusta Stevenson
Abraham Lincoln by Ingri & Edgar D'Aulaire
Young Abe Lincoln:  The Frontier Days, 1809-1837 by Cheryl Harness
Abe Lincoln Goes to Washington:  1837-1865 by Cheryl Harness
The Boy who Loved Books by Kay Winters

History Place


Tornado Safety –

If a tornado warning is issued for your location; take the following steps immediately if you are at home:

1. Go at once to the basement, storm cellar, or the lowest level of the building.

2. If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or a smaller inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.

3. Get away from the windows.

4. Go to the center of the room. Debris can sometimes come through walls..

5. Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it.

6. If you have time, get a mattress or blankets to protect your head and the heads of any children with you. If you don't have time, use your arms to protect your head and neck.

7. If you live in a mobile home, get out and find shelter elsewhere in a permanent building.

If outdoors:

1. If possible, get inside a building.

2. If shelter is not available or there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch or low-lying area or crouch near a strong building. Be aware of the potential for flooding.

3. Use arms to protect head and neck.


Relationships/Manners –

The hired boy showed kindness to the Grandmother by assisting her to the cellar. On page 2 he was also respectful to his boss’s wife and called her ma’am. Discuss the importance of listening and caring for older people in our lives.


Science –


Tornadoes –

How is a tornado formed? Tornadoes start deep within vast thunderclouds, where a column of strongly rising warm air is set spinning by high winds streaming through the cloud's top. As air is sucked into this swirling column it spins very fast, stretching thousands of feet up and down through the cloud, with a corkscrewing funnel descending from the cloud's base-the tornado.

Look for approaching storms

Look for the following danger signs:

    * Dark, often greenish sky

    * Large hail

    * A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)

    * Loud roar, similar to a freight train.

A link with drawings how a tornado forms.   
The same info as above link only in a PDF file.


Root vegetables - 

Vegetables come from various sources. Sometimes we eat the leaves, such as with lettuce, spinach, kale, or cabbage. Other times we eat the roots. Can your child think of any root vegetables? Root crops include beets, radishes, carrots, parsnips and turnips. Root vegetables store very well, especially if kept in a cool, dry place like a root cellar. 


Hail –
Hail is round hard balls of ice. It is formed in storm clouds when the moistures freezes on ice pellets and the ice pellets are tossed up and down in the cloud by the winds. They are coated layer by layer with ice (sort of like an onion) until they become heavy enough to fall to the ground. Hail can be damaging to people, plants and animals. Hailstones range in size from the size of a pea to the size of a baseball. The largest hailstone recorded hit Coffeyville, Kansas in 1970. It was 17 ½ inches and weighed 1 2/3 pounds. Hailstorms are always closely connected with thunderstorms, but the regions that most often have thunderstorms are not the same as the most frequent hailstorms. Hail most often occurs near Cheyenne, Wyoming and Denver, Colorado. Thunderstorms are most frequent near Tampa, Florida and northern New Mexico. Hail almost never falls in Florida, in the tropics, in the Polar Regions or over the ocean. Hail is most likely to happen in the spring but thunderstorms are most common in summer.


Language Arts –


Vocabulary - 

Twister: A localized and violently destructive windstorm occurring over land characterized by a funnel-shaped cloud extending toward the ground.

Storm cellar: An underground shelter where you can go until a storm passes. ,

Water spouts: tornados that are over the ocean

Hail: Precipitation of ice pellets when there are strong rising air currents.

Thunderstorm: A storm resulting from strong rising air currents; heavy rain or hail along with thunder and lightning.


List Making –

Make a list of emergency items needed for in the cellar: Food, blankets, first aid supplies for injuries, lamps, etc.


Copywork –

Use this verse about trusting God for memorization or copywork: Isaiah 12:2 I will trust and not be afraid.


Chapter 2:


Social Studies –


Tornado Alley –

Tornado Alley consists of Texas, Okalahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Look at a map to locate these states. Tornado Alley is a colloquial (conversational) term most often used in reference to the area of the United States in which tornadoes are most frequent. Although an official location of the term is not defined, the areas in between the Rocky Mountains and Appalachian Mountains are the areas usually associated with it. "Tornado Alley" is a term created by the media to refer to areas that have greater numbers of tornadoes. There are several ideas of what tornado alley is, but those ideas are the result of the different criteria used to come up with them. Perhaps the most common definition of tornado alley is the location of where the strongest tornadoes occur most frequently. In the United States that location is from Texas, northward through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and into South Dakota. (wikipedia)


Science –


Safety around strange dogs –

If a strange dog approaches you, stay still. Your instincts might say to scream and run but that will only excite the dog more and his instincts will say to run after you. A dog often sniffs you to learn about you. In a firm and commanding voice tell the dog to “GO HOME.” Don’t turn away from a strange dog instead back away slowly and keep your eyes on the dog but not looking into the dog’s eyes (staring can be seen as a threat). Dogs are often very good pets to have but must also be treated with respect as well.


Dog Training –

A dog can be trained to shake a paw. Here are the steps:


First decide which command you will use to get your dog to shake. Some people simply say "Shake", a funnier trick is to say "Gimme Five". Whatever your command you decide on, stick with it and always use the same word(s).

Have your dog sit. Give the command to "Shake". As you this, hold out your hand. Now you can use one of two methods:

1. Grab your dogs paw and "shake" it. Say the command again as you do this. With repeated practice, your dog will just start lifting its paw and placing it into your hand without you doing it for them.

2. The second method is to blow gently on the dog’s ear as you give the "shake" command. A dog's instinct is to lift its paw to itch the ear. When the paw comes up for the itch, you can grab it and give say "shake" again as you this.

You can give your dog a treat right after each try. Though it's generally not necessary. A simple pat on the head or verbal praise will encourage your dog to learn tricks.

Most dogs can learn this simple trick after only a few tries. Practice it a few times a day over the next month and they will never forget it. Now your dog knows how to shake a paw.


Language Arts –


Copywork –

Use this verse about trusting God for memorization or copywork: Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the lord with all thine heart: and lean not unto thine own understanding.

Chapter 3 –


Social Studies –


Playing Games –

What card game where they playing in this chapter? Do your children know how to play War? Discuss poor sportsmanship with your child. How should you act if you are losing? Did brother Sammy act in an appropriate manner? No, Sammy quit the game because he was losing.


Science –


Tornado Season - 

Peak tornado season in the southern states is March through May; in the northern states, it is late spring through early summer. Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., but can occur at any time.


Language Arts –


Copywork –

Use this verse about trusting God for memorization or copywork: Psalm 71:1a In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust:


Creative Writing –

What would you do during a tornado? Write a short story about it.


Chapter 4 –


Science –


Silver Dollar Turtles -

Silver Dollar turtles were turtles that sold for a dollar and were about the size of silver dollars. They were often baby red-eared sliders turtles and were sold as pets. Red-eared sliders can grow up to 6-8 inches and need lots of care to survive. They were sold in the US but now it is illegal to sell a turtle that is smaller than 4 inches. Red-eared sliders can have salmonella bacteria in their digestive system and not be sick but young children can get the bacteria from the turtles if they do not wash well enough after taking care of their pet.


Language Arts –


Vocabulary –

They "swore up" that they didn't steal the turtle. What does that mean?


Chapter 5 –


Social Studies –


Antipode –

When digging all the way to China was being discussed in the story, they were really talking about antipodes. Antipodes are places or regions of earth that are on opposite sides.  The antipode of "tornado alley" would be in the Indian Ocean--a long way from China, closer to Africa or Australia! Locate your antipode using this site: 


Science –


Corn –

Discuss different varieties of corn, including Silver Queen. Corn is a species of tall cereal grass, which is grown for its seed and used as food for people and animals. The Native Americans were the first to introduce corn to the early pioneers, but archaeologists have found ears of corn in New Mexico that were nearly 5,600 years old! There are numerous different kinds of corn but only one kind that pops. What products do we get from corn? Have your child make a list. Some possibilities are corn oil, cornstarch, corn meal, and ethanol. Foods from corn could include corn flour tortillas, corn chips, corn bread or muffins, corn fritters, Corn Pops, etc.


First Aid –

You need to stop the bleeding- (apply gentle pressure and elevate your hand) and then gently wash the scratches with mild soap and warm water. Let dry and put on a small dab of antibiotic ointment and a band aid. The band aid should be changed every day and the cut kept clean until it heals, which would be about 3-5 days. If it becomes sore and red, it may be infected and you should see a doctor.


Language Arts –


Math –


Telling Time –

There is a cat named Thirty Five because he always show up at 5:30 to eat. Learn about clocks and telling time.


Chapter 6 –


Social Studies –


Doing What is Right –

When the family is in town, another family spots Tornado and say he is theirs. Discuss doing the right thing and letting them take the dog even if you still want it.


Science –


Nails –

Discuss penny nails.  Nail sizes run from 2d to 100d.  The "d" used to mean penny--from the Roman coin denarius--and the number was how many pennies it used to--way back when--cost to buy a 100 of that size.  )


Chapter 7 –


Social Studies –


Grieving –

The boy went through a time of "grieving" over the loss of the dog. Even though the dog did not die, he went through a period of sadness because the dog was no longer his.  Do you think that the true owner, the little girl, went through a period of grieving too? What do you think of the decision the family made to keep the dog after it returned to them? The family was being a bit deceptive about it, never taking the dog into town again, don’t you think? What would you do if you found the dog, but knew there was someone out their grieving its loss?


Misc. Art Ideas -


Art: Draw a tornado


Art: Draw a storm cellar


Art Study: Look at the drawings how emotion shows on their faces


Just for Fun: Get a tornado tube and make a non-destructive tornado. Or watch water go down a bathtub drain.