Lesson Plan

Hulihia Kīlauea – a Complete Change
part 1, pre-field trip classroom activities

A comic artist rendition of a gray ash plume rising out of a crater, with a caution barricade in the foreground.
Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
Science,Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
State Standards:
Hawai'i HĀ standards:

Strengthened Sense of Belonging
Strengthened Sense of Hawai‘i
Additional Standards:

4-ESS1-1. Identify evidence from patterns in rock formations and fossils in rock layers to support an explanation for changes in a landscape over time.
Thinking Skills:
Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Creating: Bring together parts (elements, compounds) of knowledge to form a whole and build relationships for NEW situations.

Essential Question

How does living near volcanoes affect people's day to day lives and history?


This activity aims to allow students to enter learning on a level playing field by eliminating misconceptions, and engaging in a visual activity that documents the events of the 2018 eruption. This activity supports student voice by helping them come up with topics and questions they want to know more about.


Volcanic eruptions have occurred on the Island of Hawai‘i since its creation. Records of the eruptions exist since the beginning of human observation. Being an island home to active volcanoes, eruptions are an ever-present threat. The most recent major eruption event on the Island of Hawai‘i prior to 2018 was in 1984 from the Mauna Loa volcano. Since earliest Western recordings, there have been 33 eruptions on the island (Rubin 2018). While there has been a steady trickle of lava from Kīlauea since 1983 (Neal et al. 2019), the 2018 eruption was a major shift in the type of volcanic activity that most residents experienced in their lifetime.

On April 30, 2018, the Pu‘u O‘o Crater of Kīlauea collapsed and started the most impressive eruption from Kīlauea in recent history. Overall, the eruption changed the geological features of East Hawai‘i and destroyed over 700 homes in its path (Neal et al. 2019). On May 4, 2018, an earthquake with magnitude 6.9 rattled the island with tremors felt around Hawai‘i Island and through locations on Maui and O‘ahu. It is suggested that the tremors were caused by magma moving through the southern region of the island and causing a fault to slip (Neal et al. 2019). The tremors, eruption activities, and ash plumes continued throughout the region until August 4, 2018 (Neal et al. 2019). The damage to the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park was so intense that roads were cracked open, the observatories were in near-ruin, and the air quality was very poor. The park had to remain closed until September 22, 2018 (Neal et al. 2019).


  • Load Myth vs Reality powerpoint on computer projection
  • (Internet connection necessary for further inquiry to cited websites on powerpoint)
  • Load The Nib graphic article on computer projection or have handouts for students
  • Student copies of Song to Hi‘iaka Graphic Organizer
  • Create classwide K/W (What I Know, What I Want to Know) Chart
  • Follow instructions on individual lessons


Slideshow to test students' current knowledge of volcanoes on the Island of Hawaiʻi

Download Volcanic Myth vs Reality

A map coloring activity to help students understand rift zones.

Download Rift Zone Worksheet


I. Volcanic Myth vs. Reality Slideshow (10 min) – see uploaded material

II. Andy Warner Graphic Article Analysis (25 min)

Preparation: Display Andy Warner graphic article on computer projection.
Procedure: Read over comic article with class. Identify and define unfamiliar vocabulary words. Write them out on a large poster. For higher grade levels, research job titles presented in the comic.
III. Hi‘iaka Group Activity (20 min)
Preparation: large white poster sheets, colored pencils/crayons/markers
Procedure: Write each line of the following excerpt from a traditional Hawaiian chant on separate poster papers. Split class into 6 groups. Each group is tasked with drawing a scene to illustrate their line from the chant.  This exercise reappears in Module 2, the park visit or outdoor field trip, where each group will be asked to briefly act out their line. They may start preparing in the classroom.
Hulihia ka Mauna
Destruction and turmoil in the pit

Wela i ke ahi a ka Wahine
The fires of the Woman have done it

Wela na ohiʻa o Kulili i ka ua
Consuming the forests of the Ku-lili

Wela, a nopu ke ahi o ka Lua
Fires that boil from the depths of the pit

Ai kamumu, nakeke ka pahoehoe
Shaking the stone-plates till they rattle

Wela, a iluna o Halemaʻumaʻu
It’s furnace-hot in that house-of-fern
Excerpt from Hulihia ka Mauna

A link to a group performing part of this chant: https://youtu.be/k2m1EYsSw2Y
IV. Rift Zone Worksheet (25 min) – see uploaded material
V. Living near volcanoes (10 minutes)
Preparation: Watch video on park website.
Procedure: Discuss the 2018 eruption events on the Island of Hawaiʻi. Identify the types of natural disasters that could affect your area. How might these impact the community?


Hot Spot: A small, usually isolated area of volcanic activity. The Hawaiian island chain was, and continues to be, formed by a hot spot in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Magma: Molten rock in liquid form, before it reaches the Earth’s surface.

Plume: A column of hot magma rising through the Earth, thought to cause hot spots like the one beneath the Hawaiian islands.

Precursor: An event occurring before another of the same kind.

Fissures: A long, narrow opening or line of breakage.

Magnitude: The size or extent of something. In the case of earthquakes, magnitude refers to the Richter scale.

Waypoint: A stopping place on a journey.

I-90: Interstate 90, an east-west transcontinental freeway spanning the continental United States.

Parallel: Being side by side and remaining the same distance apart.

Archive: A collection of historical documents and records concerning a specific subject.

Seismic: Relating to earthquakes or other vibrations of the Earth.

Operational Tempo: The flow of usual activity.

Furlough: A leave of absence, especially a temporary layoff from employment.

PTSD: Post-traumatic stress disorder. A condition of mental and emotional stress as a result of injury or severe psychological shock.

Visceral: Relating to deep inward feelings.

Tectonic plates: Large plates that make up the Earth’s crust.

Additional Resources

Moore, J.G. and Clague, D.A. 1992. Volcano growth and evolution of the island of Hawaii. Geological Society of America Bulletin 104(11), 1471-1484.

Neal, C.A., Brantley, S.R., Antolik, L., Babb, J.L., Burgess, M., Calles, K., Cappos, M., Chang, J.C., Conway, S., Desmither, L., Dotray, P., Elias, T., Fukunaga, P., Fuke, S., Johanson, A., Kamibayashi, K., Kauahikaua, J., Lee, R.L., Pekalib, S., Miklius, A., Million, W., Moniz, C.J., Nadeau, P.A., Okubo, P., Parcheta, C., Patrick, M.R., Shiro, B., Swanson, D.A., Tollett, W., Trusdell, F., Younger, E.F., Zoeller, M.H., Montgomery-Brown, E.K., Anderson, K.R., Poland, M.P., Ball, J.L., Bard, J., Coombs, M., Dietterich, H.R., Kern, C., Thelen, W.A., Cervelli, P.F., Orr, T., Houghton, B.F., Gansecki, C., Hazlett, R., Lundgren, P., Diefenbach, A.K., Lerner, A.H., Waite, G., Kelly, P., Clor, L., Werner, C., Mulliken, K., Fisher, G., and Damby, D. 2019. The 2018 rift eruption and summit collapse of Kilauea Volcano. Science 363(6425), 367-374.

Rubin, K. (2018, May 18). Hawaii Center for Volcanology | Mauna Loa Eruptions. Retrieved from http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/GG/HCV/mloa-eruptions.html.

Related Lessons or Education Materials

This lesson connects to Hulihia Kīlauea part 2 and part 3.

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Last updated: March 5, 2020