How Storms Form: Lesson Plan

Explore the nature of hurricanes and lightning—two frequent and hazardous events in North Carolina.

UNC-TV Media

Alignment to NC Essential Standards

  • 7.E.1.3 — Explain the relationship between the movement of air masses, high and low pressure systems, and frontal boundaries to storms (including thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes) and other weather conditions that may result.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe how temperature, air pressure, humidity and wind affect weather conditions. 
  • Explain which weather factors cause extreme weather such as thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes. 
  • List conditions and actions that lead to the formation of lighting storms.

Essential Vocabulary

  • Temperature
  • Air pressure
  • Moisture humidity
  • Vapor
  • Wind
  • Hurricane
  • Thunderstorm
  • Tornado
  • Positive particles
  • Negative particles
  • Electrical charge


Students will watch the NC Science video A Flash of Lightning and answer the questions on the attached PDF.


Assess student’s prior knowledge on hurricanes by having them discuss in small groups or as a class the introductory question: “Why do hurricanes only happen during certain months?” 

After the discussion, show the students the UNC-TV Seasonal Science video “How Do Hurricanes Form?" 


Have students use the attached PDF Storm Explain file to create a four-square model for the essential vocabulary terms. Students will divide their paper into four quadrants. The steps for a four-square model are as follows:

  1. Students start with only the term and a picture which is drawn in the lower left quadrant. 
  2. Students brainstorm a list of words/terms that describe or are associated with the vocabulary term. The list can be created by looking at the picture provided with the term. This goes in the upper left quadrant. 
  3. Students write their own definition for the term using the words in the first box and the picture. This goes in the upper right quadrant. 
  4. Students use all the information about the vocabulary term to write a context clue sentence using the term. This goes in the lower right quadrant.


Students can access the online resource Hurricane Alert and follow instructions to track an actual hurricane (using latitude and longitude coordinates) and further investigate the stages of tropical storms.


Students will complete the attached Storm Evaluation PDF.  

Online resources for students to use for this assignment include: