Teaching sequence

Lesson objective

In this lesson students develop an understanding of the features of cyclones and the conditions necessary for cyclone formation.


Inform students they are going to further develop their understanding of cyclones through a variety of activities.

Show students images of cyclones from space.


NASA sees large Tropical Cyclone Yasi headed toward Queensland, Australia
Tropical Cyclone Carlos
Tropical cyclone Funso.
Cyclone Yasi.

For more images see websites listed in Useful links.

Allow time for students to discuss what they see in the photos and to share their explanations.


  1. Ask students the following questions.
    • What is a cyclone and how is it defined?
    • What conditions are necessary for the formation of cyclones?
    • Where do they occur? 

      Teacher note
      : See Background information (PDF, 382 KB) for answers to these questions.
  2. Ask students if there are any other questions they have with regards to cyclones and their formation. Record students’ questions and explain that they are going to investigate these questions and attempt to find answers.
  3. Provide students with a piece of paper for each of the questions and explain to them that this is where they are to record any information which helps answer the questions. Remind students that diagrams may assist them in answering some of the questions.
  4. Provide students with the time necessary to investigate the questions. This research can be done by using the resources available in the school library and by visiting websites listed in Useful links.
  5. Once students have had sufficient research time, divide the students into the same number of groups as there are questions and present each group with all of the responses to one of the questions. Each group then has the task of collating the responses to their designated question, determining the common elements and organising a combined response that best answers the question.


Ask a representative from each group to share this information with the class.

As each question is answered and discussed, provide students with a minute or two to discuss their understanding of the answer with a partner.

Once all questions have been shared, ask students to describe the features of cyclones and the conditions necessary for their formation. Give the students ten minutes to provide a written response that demonstrates their understanding.

Lesson Resources


Useful links

About tropical cyclones,
Bureau of Meteorology. Information 

ClearlyExplained.com, Information and further resources 

Cyclones – get the facts,
Attorney-General’s Department. Information. (9 December, 2016: Original web page no longer available. This copy provided by the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.)

Cyclone Yasi from above,
Brisbane Times. Photo gallery 

Hazards – cyclone,
Geoscience Australia. Information 

Modelling tropical cyclones,
Bureau of Meteorology. Information and animations 

Scientists release stunning satellite imagery of cyclone Yasi from space 
(w/Video), Phys.org. Information and images 

Severe tropical cyclone Yasi satellite loop,
Bureau of Meteorology. Animation 

Tropical cyclones explained,
ABC News 02/02/2011