Earth Science – Hands-On Activities

Earth Science ActivitiesEvery few years, we have learned about Earth Science.  Each time we cover this material, we’ve added in new hands-on activities to help the kids understand some of the Earth’s processes. Today, I thought I’d share some of the photos from the first time we studied Earth Science since they’re buried here on the blog.

We talked about the layers of the Earth and did a cute hands-on activity with play dough to demonstrate those layers:

Earth Science Layers of the Earth ActivityThe mantle is hotter than the crust. The next activity helped the kids see that heat rises. We took ice cold water and poured it into a jar.  We dyed some water red and heated it up. The kids sucked up some of the hot water with a turkey baster and slowly let out the hot/red water.

The kids could see the red water streaming upwards toward the surface.  This helped the kids understand why magma/lava from the mantle would move up/out of the crust and/or shift about to affect the earth’s plates.

Earth Science Heat RisesWe also did the opposite, placing red/hot water into a glass. Then we slowly added cold water (which we dyed blue). The cold/blue water remained as a layer at the bottom of the glass.

Earth Science - Heat Rises ActivityAnother activity we did was to help the kids understand how the continents can move and shift around. We talked about Pangaea.

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 from foam and asked them to fit them together as best the could.

We placed a piece of play dough on the foam blocks to weigh them down a bit. Then placed those on paper that had been folded accordion style. As the kids pulled on the paper and straightened it out, they watched as the continents moved around. We talked about the plates moving and shifting, causing the continents to drift away (or towards one another).

PlateTectonics-withPaper1-675x300This final activity helped the kids see how earthquakes shift and move the earth around.

We dyed rice different colors and used these to create “layers” similar to sedimentary rocks.  (ED who was little at the time, enjoyed spooning the rice into her jar!)

We looked a bit more closely at what happens at fault lines where slight shifts in the crust cause earthquakes.

First the kids all made their own layered crust.
earth-layers-hands-on-earthscienceThen we placed an index card in a larger container and created layers on both sides of the paper.

plate-movement-earth-science-activityWe moved the index card back and forth and watched as the grains of rice shifted and moved.


earth-movement-sedimentary-layersThe 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.

Here are some of the books we used at the time for this unit. They had some wonderful ideas! These are affiliate links:


Several years later, when the kids were in Grades 1, 4, and 6 and it was time to do this unit again.  The second time around, we talked about many of the same topics, but went into much more depth. And, we covered terms we really didn’t talk about when they were younger.  I made a series of notebook pages that they filled out and added to their science notebooks.

Some of the topics we covered (when they were in Grades 1, 4 an 6) included:

  • the solar system
  • layers of the Earth, Earth’s axis
  • compass directions, compass rose, how to use a compass
  • Earth’s geologic timeline
  • equator, latitude, longitude  — Using a globe to determine latitude and longitude
  • Pangaea and continental drift
  • understanding convection currents
  • tectonic plates
  • 4 types of mountains
  • 3 types of faults
  • earthquakes and faults
  • volcanoes – volcanic terms, types of volcanoes
  • earthquakes and building construction, earthquake shake table

We did a lot of new hands-on activities the second time around.  For example, when we talked about Pangaea, we did it with water and candles.  We made an earthquake shake table.  And we did a gelatin volcano activity that helped the kids understand how/why magma chambers form. We talked about latitude and longitude and much more.   You can find out more about our 50+ page Earth Science Packet at this post: Earth Science Packet or you can purchase it with the link below.

We did hands-on activities on the layers of the earth, volcanoes, earthquakes, plate movement and more.

Volcano Activity

In all, we did over 15 different hands-on activities in this unit. Instructions and photos are included in the packet! 🙂

Be sure to check out our 100+ page Earth Science Packet! Our Earth Science Unit (post) is here to find out more!!

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, convection currents and more!

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

The Earth Science Packet is $7.99.

It is now well over 100 pages (as we added a lot of new materials recently when we covered did this unit again). It includes all the materials you saw above (notebook pages, hands-on activity ideas, and more). You can scroll down below for more pictures of what is included (or click on the link above to visit another post that goes into detail about the contents!).

Purchase the Earth Science Packet

Cost: $7.99

Don’t forget to check your PayPal email address for the download link.

When you click on the Buy Now button below, it will take you to Paypal. Upon receipt of payment you will immediately get a link to download this pdf in your browser. You will also receive an email from SendOwl Downloads which will give you a link to download. (Check the email linked to your PayPal account.) Of course, if you have any issues just email me at — liesl at homeschoolden dot com.  You can also reach me by using the contact form. ~Liesl


Earth Science Worksheets

Earth Science - Earthquake VibrationsEarth Science Activities

Earth Science Unit - Layers of the Earth Activities Types of Volcanoes Worksheets - Interactive Notebook PagesVolcano Worksheets and Notebook PagesVolcano Worksheets-Notebook Pages- Volcanic Hazards

:)  Again, if you have any trouble, just contact me (liesl at homeschoolden dot com)! ~Liesl


You might also be interested in these related posts: 

Happy Homeschooling!


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