Earth Science: Plate Movements & Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Mountain-Making

Here’s our hands-on studies of tectonic plate movements, 2nd grade style.
We used:
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).
We read about the plates and tectonic plate movement and looked carefully at this map.  We talked about how when earth was one giant super-continent (Pangaea), India was actually tucked in close to Africa, Australia and Antarctica rather than being a part of Eurasia.  This fact is rather important as you’ll see later below.
We put two crustal plates  directly onto the red “mantle.”  Then I pulled the plates apart and asked the kids what they saw.  Obviously they saw the red “lava” and I talked about how new rocks are being formed all the time under the oceans (the Mid-Atlantic Ridge).  I read that section from one of our science books. As Gardner’s book put it, “When two plates separate, there is a weakness in the Earth’s crust. Hot magma from the Earth’s mantle may come up between the plates. As the liquid magma cools, it adds new crust to the plates.” (p. 32, Earth Shaking Science Projects About Planet Earth)
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.
We took two graham crackers and placed them on a plate with a bit of water.  Before they became too soggy, LD and I pushed our crustal plates (ie graham crackers) together.  This, I told him, is what is happening in India as it pushes into Eurasia.  “COOL!  Mountains!”  LD exclaimed! And do you know what mountains this would be? the tallest ones in the world?  “Oh yes, the Himalayas.”  What a terrific teaching moment!

Be sure to check out our 100+ page Earth Science Packet!! 

Learn how to make a earthquake shake table, more than a dozen hands-on activities on the layers of the earth, volcanoes, earthquakes, plate movement and more!

Topics include: Solar System, Layers of the Earth, Earth’s Axis and the Seasons, Latitude and Longitude, Plate Tectonics, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, 4 Types of Mountains

Earth Science Packet

Earth-Science-Packet 150 page - worksheets hands-on activities and more

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Layers of the Atmosphere Packet - Worksheets Hands-On Activities Notebook Pages Layers of the Atmosphere Printable Activity Earth Systems - Atmosphere Geosphere Hydrosphere Notebook Activity - Earth System Lapbook Pieces Earth's Atmosphere Packet 50+ pagesYou will find this packet and more in our Store!

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16 Responses

  1. Fantastic ideas, I just love your blog! Karen

  2. Fantastic ideas, I just love your blog! Karen

  3. FairyLover says:

    Such a great way to learn about the shifting of the earth's surface.Kathi Still trying to figure out science for my 3rd grader.

  4. FairyLover says:

    Such a great way to learn about the shifting of the earth's surface.Kathi Still trying to figure out science for my 3rd grader.

  5. Way cool! Wonderful works!! Kerri

  6. Way cool! Wonderful works!! Kerri

  7. Debbie says:

    Thanks so much for your comment on my blog. It's very nice to "meet" you, and I'm following your blog now! Your children are studying some of the same things mine have. I love these earth science activities you did. My oldest studied Earth Science last year, and I wish we had done what you did. He would have loved it!

  8. Debbie says:

    Thanks so much for your comment on my blog. It's very nice to "meet" you, and I'm following your blog now! Your children are studying some of the same things mine have. I love these earth science activities you did. My oldest studied Earth Science last year, and I wish we had done what you did. He would have loved it!

  1. January 6, 2014

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