Escaping the Giant Wave

Aladdin Paperbacks, a division of SImon and Schuster Peg Kehret
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Informative Text
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.




By reading this fictional account of the effects of a tsunami as seen through the eyes of two children, students will gather factual information explaining the tsunami phenomenon, warning systems, and effects that might occur. Parts of the book could also be used to present the phenomena of tsunamis to students--sparking their questions and leading to further investigations of what is happening and why.


Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Grade 7
  • Grade 6
  • Upper Elementary
Access Restrictions

Available for purchase - The right to view, keep, and/or download material upon payment of a one-time fee.

Performance Expectations

4-ESS3-2 Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans.

Clarification Statement: Examples of solutions could include designing an earthquake resistant building and improving monitoring of volcanic activity.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This book supports the performance expectation because it outlines solutions to reduce the impacts of tsunamis. The performance expectation could be made more explicit through teacher guided discussions of the types of natural processes and student-brainstormed ways in which their impacts are reduced at the present time. As students experience the effects of a tsunami vicariously in the text, they might compare solutions they have generated with those outlined in the story.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
This chapter book (750L), which is geared for ages 8-12 students, can be used to gather information to explain the phenomena of tsunamis. The teacher might choose to read the text in a chapter-by-chapter manner, employing a K-W-L chart , adding information or questions as the reading progresses. Students could review information from previous chapters, then predict what they think will occur in later chapters, giving evidence for their ideas. This type of activity could provide the teacher with evidence of prior knowledge as well as areas of possible student misconceptions about the phenomenon. The teacher might also ask students to explore websites listed at the end of the text to compare and evaluate the information presented about tsunamis, in order to explain the phenomena in greater depth. Note: The effects of tsunamis described in the book may be graphic for some students. Teachers should preview the text, modifying sections if necessary. Maps of the Pacific coast could be included for students as another means of researching the geography and topography of the area, providing them with a real-life connection to the fictitious text.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The book supports the disciplinary core idea because it outlines tsunamis (a type of natural hazard) and steps that humans can take to reduce their impacts. To strengthen the connection to the disciplinary core idea, the teacher could focus a class discussion on the tsunami warning system presented in the text. (One system provides the coast of Oregon with the warning alarm of “cows mooing”.) After soliciting student questions. The teacher might ask questions such as: “ What types of warning systems were used in the story?” “How effective were they in attempting to lessen the effects on human life?” “What other steps could have been taken to warn residents?”

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
This resource implicitly supports the crosscutting concept because it can lead to conversations about cause and effect of the natural hazards of tsunamis. For instance, students could illustrate the key events in the story with emphasis on the “before” and “after” landscape descriptions. This activity might take the form of an illustrated book report, a re-enactment of the story in play form, or as “breaking news/weather report” created by students. In addition, the text (p.149, Author’s Notes, paragraph 2) does describe tectonic plate activity on the Oregon coast as the cause of earthquakes and subsequent potential tsunami activity in the Oregon area.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This resource engages students in developing an understanding of tsunamis, their impact on human life and landforms, and ways that their impacts might be lessened. It also creates a relatable connection for students as they read about children dealing with the power/effects of a tsunami. Students might be asked to discuss/journal how they would react if they were the characters in this story. They could create a class “story within the story”, including details modeled by teacher/class discussion. Questions might include, “ If you were in a tsunami-prone area, what precautions should you take to be prepared? “ “ Why should you be aware of those precautions even though you might not live in a tsunami zone?” “What types of earth forces could you be subject to?” “How would you prepare for their impacts?” “What patterns of these occurrences do you notice?”

  • Instructional Supports: Instructional Supports are not included in the resource. The teacher could present the text as a pair-share reading, or teacher reading by chapter, while reviewing pertinent facts of previous chapters. This would allow for differentiation of instruction, with the teacher emphasizing concepts/vocabulary in text that might need greater explanation. Students could make a class list of concepts that might be difficult to understand, with students having an opportunity to research those concepts using other texts and reliable media to chart responses.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The text itself does not allow for monitoring student progress. Chapter-by-chapter reading of the text would allow the teacher to assess student learning. When a chapter has been read and discussed, students could journal/illustrate what they think will happen in the following chapter, giving evidence for their ideas. The teacher might create an assessment rubric based on student responses/journal entries to guided questions.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: This resource does not contain a technologically interactive component.