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What’s Below My Feet? Third Graders Learn About the Earth’s Layers

written by: Patricia Gable • edited by: Carly Stockwell • updated: 12/10/2015

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you started digging a hole in the ground and kept digging till you reached the center of the Earth? Let’s learn what you would find.

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    Lesson Plan

    Objective:

    Identify the layers of the Earth: crust, mantle, core (inner and outer). SC03-S06-C01-01

    Materials:

    • 4 colors of construction paper (blue, yellow, orange, red)
    • white construction paper
    • scissors, glue
    • cardboard or tagboard (for the patterns)
    • computer/ large screen *

    Preparation:

    Make patterns of circles for the students to use. There are four different sizes.

    The circumferences of the circles are: 7 5/8", 7 ½", 4 ½", 2 ½"

    Students use the patterns to cut one circle of each color:

    Blue 7 5/8", yellow 7 ½", orange 4 ½, red 2 ½"

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    Procedure:

    Say, “Today we are going to talk about the Earth. Imagine if you were able to dig a hole all the way to the center of the Earth. What do you think you would find? Do you think it would be the same as what we have here on the surface? Just like a cake or a piece of pizza the Earth has different layers. Let’s find out more."

    Use the Kids Geo website to read and explain how the scientists have determined what we would find if we were able to work our way to the center of the Earth. There is an animated spinning Earth and you are able to click on the layer that you want to see. Included is a song.

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    Activity:

    Activity: 

    Students should use the patterns to make the four circles. Then glue the circles one on top of the other (blue, yellow, orange and then red). Affix the circles on the top half of the white piece of construction paper. Label each of the sections. At the bottom of the paper write a fact about each layer.

    • Crust: 10 miles deep of rock and loose material. Has oceans and continents.
    • Mantle: 85% of Earth’s weight made up of super heated rock
    • Outer Core: Super heated lava 3000 miles beneath the surface.
    • Inner Core: Believed to be a solid ball of iron and nickel

    *If You are Unable to Use a Computer:

    First show the students a globe of the Earth. Describe what is on the surface (oceans and continents). Then ask students what would happen if you went deeper into the Earth, below the oceans and continents.

    Use four colors (blue, yellow, orange and red) of play dough to demonstrate the layers. First roll a small ball with the red play dough. This is the Inner Core believed to be solid nickel and iron. Then cover the ball with a layer of orange. This is the Outer Core, which is super heated lava. Make a thicker layer next, which represents the Mantle. It contains material that gives the Earth most of its weight. The final thin layer is done with blue and represents the crust. This is where we live. It is made of rock and loose material.