Time Zone Map Helps Explain Tsunami To Kids


Big disasters are hard – maybe impossible – for anyone to comprehend. It’s even harder for young kids, who have a fuzzy-at-best notion of the world.

When I told my daughter about the tsunami, her first question was, “Is it going to hit us?” Then she wanted to know if it would hit our family in Buenos Aires (no) or our friends in San Francisco (probably not). It was hard for her to understand just how far away Japan is, or how it relates to any of the other places we were talking about.

This is where a time zone map comes in handy. Using a time zone map can help kids understand the geography of a disaster.

Using a time zone map turns our conversation into a great “teaching moment”; not only did my kid walk away reassured about the safety of our own home here on the East Coast, but she understands more about time zones now. The international date line helps explain why an earthquake that struck last night generated a tsunami that didn’t hit Oregon until the next morning, which was actually lunchtime where we are. Follow that? It’s tricky. Time zones can be confusing stuff.

How have you been talking with your kids about the earthquake and tsunami? What tools are you using to help it all make sense?

Photo: Nelo Esteves