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Lesson Plan #:AELP-GLG000
Submitted by: Marlene Triplett, Orofino Elementary, Orofino, ID
Endorsed by: These lesson plans are the result of the work of the teachers who have attended the Columbia Education Center’s Summer Workshop. CEC is a consortium of teacher from 14 western states dedicated to improving the quality of education in the rural, western, United States, and particularly the quality of math and science Education. CEC uses Big Sky Telegraph as the hub of their telecommunications network that allows the participating teachers to stay in contact with their trainers and peers that they have met at the Workshops.
Date: May 1994

Grade Level(s): 4, 5, 6


  • Science/Geology

OVERVIEW: There are many changes that occur in the earth’s crust. There are those that come quickly and others that take millions of years. The material given are activities that have worked to show students what these changes are and why they take place. PURPOSE:

The purpose of these activities is to give students a hands-on feeling for the relationships between the earth’s structural layers and to aid them in the understanding of the world around them.


Students will be able to:

  • Identify, by modeling, the earth’s structure, namely the core, mantle and crust.
  • Identify by experiment and demonstration the forces within the earth that cause constant changes on our earth’s surface— earthquakes.

    The following activities are some that are used in a unit about the earth’s surface to give students the feel of what happens and what has happened in different circumstances on the earth.

    • Earth’s Structure. Give each student a large styrofoam ball (6 in.). Using a knife cut a large wedge out of the ball so it can be seen to the center. (These could be pre-cut to keep the students from using a knife.) Draw lines to show the relative thickness of each layers. Color with wax crayons. Label. Put cut-outs of continents on the outside. Summarize what was learned.
    • Earthquakes – Shifting vertical layers. Lay two separate strips of cloth or plastic next to each other on the bottom of a cake pan. Let the excess length of one strip hang out at one end of the pan, the other at the other end. Cover the strips with damp soil up to the edge of the pan and pack it down firmly. Place toys on the soil to represent houses, cars, bridges. Now pull the protruding strip at one end and the other at the other end simultaneously. Children describe what happens; they predict what might happen if similar objects were to occur on earth.


    None needed.


    When and other activities are completed a display of their work for other grades and parents is held. At this time, the experiments done will lead to projects for the Science Fair held in our school each spring. They are also encouraged to take their projects to the District Science Fair held in Lewiston, Idaho in mid March.