Hands On Activities — Earthquakes, Plate Movements, Mountain Making, Volcanoes and other Earth Science Topics
Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
This week, I’m out of commission. I’m having some pretty major ear surgery this week and I plan to lock the bedroom door and let my amazing and wonderful in-laws watch the kids while I recover. In the meantime, I wanted to leave you with something to look through. I picked out some old posts that might be of interest:
Layers of the Earth Activities:
I first saw this activity last year at The Learning Ark. It fit in perfectly with our Earth Science unit. There is also a similar activity using a hard-boiled egg in the book we are using for this unit, How the Earth Works by Michelle O’Brien-Palmer. One of the other books we are using, Planet Earth/Inside Out by Gail Gibbons, had some really good description and discussion of the layers of the earth. We used those books along with cards from Free Montessori.org to talk about the inner core, out core, mantle and crust.
As we read about each layer, we colored playdough and added a new layer. We started with a small sphere. We kept adding layers until the ball was covered by the crust:
|Then LD looked at the globe and tried to add the continents and oceans. Would you believe, poor LD’s place of birth, Australia, didn’t really fit onto his globe??! He stuck on a tiny, tiny piece of green playdough but it wasn’t much to scale!|
|Then LD wondered what we’d do with it. His eyes got wide when I pulled out a butcher knife!|
|But he got right into slicing the world apart!|
|We were pretty excited by the results. The layers showed up really clearly!|
|And we could even talk about how different areas were thicker and thinner.|
|Just to mention–I made a large pot of playdough for the girls in the morning and we added the colors later in the day. If you don’t add the colors when you’re first making playdough BE SURE to wear gloves!!|
|EARLIER IN THE DAY: The girls were happy with a very light pink — and this worked well for our layers of the earth colors later. Even the inner core looks pretty yellow (the color we decided upon).|
We’ll be sharing a few more of our Earth Science Activities in the next couple of days.
Plate Movement and Volcanoes:
Here’s our hands-on studies of tectonic plate movements, 2nd grade style.
a tray with a thin layer of chilled jello (jelly)
graham crackers for the earth’s crustal plates
colored icing (green-continents and blue-oceans)
|You can see LD putting the continent and ocean onto his plate (ie. graham cracker).|
|Next, we pushed the plates together and showed how at times the magma is forced up between the plates… ie forming volcanoes. We looked at a map that shows the Pacific Ring of Fire (the ring of volcanoes in the Pacific Ocean region). Here’s an example of the Ring of Fire.|
More in the next post.
Plate Movement, Earthquakes:
First the kids all made their own layered crust. ED especially enjoyed this!
|Then we placed an index card in a larger container and created layers on both sides of the paper.|
|We moved the index card back and forth and watched as the grains of rice shifted and moved.|
|The kids really found it fascinating to see how much the rice shifted around. Of course, as you can imagine, the earthquakes became a bit violent as they moved the index card back and forth. We had to reinsert the card a couple of times.|
Plate Movements, Pangea:
We were still talking about plate tectonics on Friday. We talked about how scientists theorize that the continents were once connected as one giant super-continent, Pangaea. I cut out South America and Africa and asked them to fit them together as best the could. When they didn’t fit together perfectly I asked the kids why the continents wouldn’t match perfectly after 250 million years? We talked about erosion and the power of water (waves, storms and such–like the poor people who endured the cyclone in the Cairns region of Australia in the past week or so).
Next we did a little activity to show how continents could move without some giant hand pulling them apart. This was perfect for the kids, since it let them “see” the continents move without our touching them. I cut the continents out of foam. The kids folded construction paper. First we set the continents close together with a piece of playdough to weight the continents down.
|As the kids pulled each side of the construction paper, they could see the continents move apart. We got this idea from Robert Gardners” Earth-Shaking Science Projects About Planet Earth.|
|The red paper represents the mantle and the next experiment helps the kids understand how and why magma flows.|
How Fold Mountains Are Formed:
The most common types of mountains are fold mountains. Some fold mountains include the Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, and Alps.
This activity showed how plate movement creates folded mountains.When the two continents collide, the plates wrinkle and fold. Here’s our activity to show this happening. It’s the same principle as the damp graham cracker we did a few days ago, but this shows the “layers” of the earth folding/wrinkling.
|Here’s an example of a fold mountain in the Alps in Switzerland (image from wikimedia commons)|