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Help Young Students Understand the Earth with Play-Doh

written by: Alicia • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 8/2/2012

This fun activity creates a model of the earth. Students use purchased play-doh or homemade playdough to recreate the continents and bodies of water that are visible from space. It's a great hands on activity to help younger students comprehend what earth is.

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    The students will need the following items:

    1. Blue Play-Doh
    2. Green Play-Doh
    3. Toothpick
    4. Newspaper
    5. A globe for reference

    Note: If you prefer to use homemade playdough, you can find three simple recipes here.

    Use the instructions below to have the students create a model of the Earth:

    1. Lay newspaper on the desks to protect the Playdough from sticking to the desk.
    2. Open a blue container of play-doh. Use the whole container to sculpt the play-doh into a sphere. This can be accomplished by rolling the playdough between the palm of the hand and the desk.
    3. Tell the students that the Earth mostly consists of water. This is the reason for using the blue play-doh first, it represents the bodies of water. Ask them to tell what color the land is represented as on the globe. Use the globe as a reference, if necessary.
    4. Review the seven continents with the students. Ask students to repeat the names: Australia, Asia, Antarctica, North and South Americas, Africa, and Europe.
    5. Review the four bodies of water with the students. They are: Arctic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and Atlantic Ocean. Let the students recall them.
    6. Show the students the Western Hemisphere and the Eastern Hemisphere on the globe.
    7. Have the students flatten the green play-doh and form the shapes of each continent with the help of the toothpick. Next, they gently press each continent in it's proper place in the Western or Eastern Hemisphere.
    8. Set the globes aside to dry. The drying time for playdough is twenty four hours.
    9. Lastly, depending on the age of the student, they could use the toothpick to etch the name of each of the continents and the four oceans onto the playdough in their respective places. Alternately, you could use the beginning letter or an abbreviation.
    10. Decorate the classroom with the playdough globes for about a week or two and then let the students take them home.

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    by Billy Alexander

    by Billy Alexander