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Legends explain why something happened. Long ago, no one knew why earthquakes happened. So people thought of reasons why they happened.  These reasons are called legends. A legend is a story. Here are some legends about earthquakes. After you have read these legends, make up your own legend.

                West African legend. (I like this one.)
The earth is flat, like a plate. It is held up on one side by a BIG mountain and on the other by a Giant. The Giant's Wife holds up the sky. The earth trembles whenever he stops to hug her. (Okay, where are the giant and his wife and the mountain standing?)

Click here to add text.

In India, people thought that he earth was held up by four elephants that stood on the back of a turtle. The turtle was balanced in turn on a cobra. When one of these animals moved, the earth shook. 

New Zealand
 The Maori legend says that Papa (Mother Earth) has a child in her womb, named Ru. When Ru stretches and kicks as babies do, he causes earthquakes. Ru is the Maori god of earthquakes.

             Here is a new one.

  The Muppet Babies TV show.                   

  According to Nanny, the earth gets a tummy ache and then it has to burp.  The Muppets Babies called earthquakes Earth Burps.

.This is an American Indian legend from Tennessee.
Once upon a time there was a young handsome Chickasaw chief. He was called Reelfoot because he had a twisted foot. He fell in love with a Choctaw princess. The princess's father would not give Reelfoot his daughter. Reelfoot kidnapped her. The Chickasaw tribe gave them a big wedding and a feast. The Great Spirit (God) got angry and stomped his foot. The shock caused the Mississippi River to overflow its banks and drown the entire wedding party. (Reelfoot Lake, on the Tennessee side of the Mississippi River, was formed because of the New Madrid earthquake of 1812.) 

 Namazu, (a great catfish) lies curled up under the sea. The islands of Japan rested on his back. Kashima Daimyojin, (catfish god) held a big stone over his head to keep him from moving.  When Kashima let his mind daydream, the Namazu moved, and the Earth trembled. 


 Poseidon is the god of the sea and the god of earthquakes. When he gets mad, he strikes the ground with his trident. This causes earthquakes 
  (According to Rick Riordan, Poseidon is the father of Percy Jackson. The first Percy Jackson book, "The Lightning Thief" is now a movie.)

 In old Mexico, they thought it was the devil. When el Diablo (the devil) wanted to make trouble on the earth, he made giant rips in the earth from the inside. 
In Mozambique, they thought that the earth was a living creature that had the same kind of problems people have. When the earth had chills and fever, it would shake. 

Central America  
The square earth is held up at its four corners by four gods, the Vashakmen. When they decide the earth is becoming overpopulated, they tip it to get rid of surplus people.

In ancient Siberia, they thought the world sat on a sled driven by a god named Tuli. When the dogs who pulled the sled scratched their fleas, the earth shook. 

East Africa
 The earth is held on the horn of a cow. The cow stands on a stone. The stone is on the back of a fish. When the cow's neck hurt, she tossed the globe from one horn to the othe

(Okay. Why did so many different countries have legends that said the earth was on the back of an animal?)

 When people on Earth are very, very sinful, God sends an angry angel to strike the air that surrounds our planet. The blows produce a musical tone that is felt on the Earth as a series of shocks. 

Assam (look up this country on a map) 
In Assam there was a legend that said there was a race of people living inside the earth. Sometimes they shake the ground to find out if anyone is still living on the earth's surface. When children in Assam, feel a quake, they shout "Alive, alive!" so the people inside the earth will know they are there and stop the shaking. 
Return to Teacher Activities

Earthquake Word Search

Click Here for a downloadable Excel workbook with an earthquake work search.  Tab one has the word search Tab two has the answers 

The word search includes the following words:


Return to Teacher Activities

The Richter Scale gives Earthquake numbers from one to ten. Each number has its own set of decimal points. So between each number on the scale, there are nine other numbers that belong in that family.
I am using grains of rice to represent the numbers.  Let's start with a 3.0. (Earthquakes below 3.0 are rarely felt by human beings.)

Let the children count out the rice grains. Start at 3.1   We will call a 3.1 strength earthquake one grain of rice.  A 3.2 is two grains of rice and so on, up to 3.9 which will be nine grains of rice.
A 4.0  Will be 10 Grains of rice

Now we will be counting by tens. 
 A 4.1 is 10 grains of rice. A 4.2 is 20 grains of rice – and so on. 

At 5.0, the measurement is 100 grains of rice.  Now we are counting by one hundreds. 
(At this point, you can make a little paper cone. Put the 100 grains of rice inside it. Cut around the edges of the cone until it is exactly the size to hold one hundred grains of rice.)
 A 5.1 will be 100 grains of rice. A 5.2 will be 200 grains of rice and so on up until 5.9

6.0 will 1,000 grains of rice.
 Now we will be counting by 1000’s
(I measured this. 1000 grains of rice is approximately 1/3rd of a cup of rice.) 

7.0 is 10,000 Grains of Rice.  Now we will be counting by 10,000's
The January 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake was a 7.0
The September 19. 1985 Michoacan, Mexico was an 8.0
An 8.0 is 100,000 grains of rice.  Now we are counting by 100,000's
Now we are counting by 100,000  a 9.0 is 1,000,000 grains of rice
 The March 11, 2011  Honshu, Japan earthquake was a 9.0

Now we will be counting by 1,000,000,00,'s.  
The March 28, 1964 Alaska Earthquake was a 9.2 
That would be 2,000,000 million grains of rice,
The largest earthquake recorded  on the Richter scale occurred in Chile on May, 22, 1960.  That was a 9.5 
That would be five million grains of rice (approximately 11 and one half of the containers pictured above. )
You can do this excercise in the classroom.  You will need thirty pounds of rice.

I thought about M&M's, for this tactile exercile, but not only would it give the class a big sugar high,  The cost of that many M&M's would be prohibitive
The Richter Scale numbers in terms of grains of rice