Earth Science: Plate Movement Hands-On Activities
We just love hands-on activities! We’ve been studying Earth Science this fall. This post shares some pictures of some of the Earth Science activities we added into our unit.
Back several weeks ago, we explained how we started this unit… with an overview of our solar system, then a closer look at Earth’s geologic timeline talking about the age of the Earth (4.6 billion years) and the appearance of various critters in the geologic timeline (trilobites, sharks, dinosaurs, ants and more). We also l learned about latitude, longitude and how to use a compass.
As I was going back through my pictures, I realized that I never shared our pictures from when we learning about finding compass points. When the weather was nice in October, we went outside and the kids practiced making their own compass rose: Here are some step-by-step pictures of the kids making the compass rose. You can see some of our previous activities here in htis post: Latitude, Longitude and Using a Compass. (Obviously these weren’t taken this week with temperatures plummeting into the 20s and 30s!!)
After that, we started looking at plate tectonics. According to a theory developed in the early 20th century, the super-continent Pangaea formed about 300 million years ago. The continent began breaking apart about 100 million years ago. We traced and cut out the continents and moved them around to see how they best fit together. Then we looked closely at the picture of Pangaea (on a notebook page I made for the kids… which I’ll share once it’s polished and ready!). Each of the kids had their own set of continents (which is why there are yellow and white continents in the picture below): When we studied plate tectonics several years ago, we did this activity with paper to show how the continents could move without our touching them. This was perfect for the kids at that age (DD was about 5 and LD was 7), 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. We did this activity again with several of the continents and of course the kids took turns “moving” the continents apart over and over! The tectonic plate map, puzzle and flip cards are included in our Earth Science Packet below.This is included in our 150+ page Earth Science Packet (more details below).
This time around, we into much more depth about the mechanics of plate tectonics. We went over the evidence for there having been a super-continent (geologic evidence, fossil evidence and climate studies). We also talked in some depth about convection currents that occur deep within the Earth as the heated rock rises cools, sinks and is heated again. We did a couple of activities to help the kids really understand how this movement of heated rock helped geologists develop the theory of plate tectonics. Materials to have on hand:
- 2 sponges cut into the shape of South America and Africa
- 3 push pins
- 1 aluminum pan
- 2 or 3 small tea candles
- 2 thick books
We poured water into the pan and let it sit until the water stopped moving around. Then we carefully put the sponges in place. We read that one of the sponges should have push pins placed in the side. I’m not sure whether this was to weight it down or keep the sponges from touching. Then we set the experiment up as follows (with books holding the pan up).
Once the water stopped moving, we lit the tea candles beneath the pan. We made sure the candles were in between the two continents. It was pretty neat watching the continents drift apart!
We spent several days talking about convection currents and looking at various diagrams. After we watched the continents drift apart, we carefully dropped dye into the water to see convection currents in action. The dye dropped to the bottom of the pan and then moved upward and outward with the heated water. I should have videoed this since the series of pictures isn’t terribly exciting to look at, but at any rate, with the dye, the kids could see how the water moved with the heat source (candles) underneath and it gave them a better understanding of convection currents and how they work.
You may want to find out more about our Earth Science Packet below. It now includes more than 150 pages! We read about plate tectonics in several different resources. Two that we found especially helpful were The Changing Earth (A middle school science text by McDougal Littel) and Plate Tectonics by Linda George. Both worked well for my kids (ages 6, 9, 11). I kept adding and adding to our Earth Science Notebook Pages Packet as we went through this unit… and then added to it again when we covered this material with out Science Club. Here are a few more of the pages we worked on for our science notebook: Be sure to check out our 150+ page Earth Science Packet! (Lots of new resources have been added recently!) 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 $9.99. Our units are pdf downloads.
The Earth Science Packet is now well over 150 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!).
Be sure to check out the Earth Science and Layers of the Atmosphere BUNDLE option here!
Purchase the Earth Science Packet:
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 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
More pictures of what is included:
Earth Science BUNDLE
Purchase the Layers of the Atmosphere Packet ($6.99) and the Earth Science Packet ($9.99) together in a BUNDLE with the option below.
Click here to find out more about the Layers of the Atmosphere Packet. (See pics below.) It is well over 50 pages and has lots of hands-on activity ideas, worksheets, interactive notebook pages and more. Our Layers of the Atmosphere Packet introduces kids to some of the basics about Earth’s atmosphere. It starts with a review of Earth’s systems: the geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and atmosphere and spends time talking about the different layers of the atmosphere (the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere). It has sorting cards and interactive notebook projects on objects & phenomena in the atmosphere. Students will learn about the Sun’s harmful rays — what they are (EM radiation) and how we are kept safe. Finally, this packet touches on satellites and the GPS system.
Purchase the Earth Science BUNDLE with the link below:
Earth Science BUNDLE 1
Don’t forget to check your PayPal email address for the pdf download link.
When you click on the Add to Cart Button, 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 BUNDLE of 5
$34.99 Earth Science BUNDLE of 5 (Earth Science Unit, Layers of the Atmosphere Unit, Magnetism & the Magnetosphere, Weather Unit) – After we studied the Layers of the Atmosphere and the Magnetosphere, we did a big unit on the weather talking about where weather occurs, weather fronts, global and local winds, jet streams, monsoons, natural disasters etc. This bundle also includes a 100+page geology unit on Rocks and Minerals.
See lots more pictures of what is included at the Earth Science page.
$54.99 Earth Science & Physical Science BUNDLE of 10 (Save over $10 with this Bundle) 1) Earth Science Unit, 2) Layers of the Atmosphere Unit, 3) Magnetism & the Magnetosphere, 4) Weather & Natural Disasters Unit, 5) Rocks and Minerals Unit 6) Water Cycle Unit, 7) Where I Live Activity Packet – My galaxy, solar system, planet, continent, country, state, town, and home! 8) Environmental Studies: Trash and Recycling Unit; 9) Energy Packet: Kinetic vs. Potential Energy, Types and Sources of Energy, Renewable and Non-renewable Resources, Fossil Fuels, the Carbon Cycle 10) Simple Machines
Be sure to check your PayPal email address for the download link.
These packets are also sold separately in Our Store.
- Visit the Earth Science Page for more details about the Earth Science BUNDLES. (All the units are sold separately as well.)
- Visit this post for more information about the Layers of the Atmosphere Packet.
- Visit this post for more information about the Magnetism Unit.
- Visit this post for more information about the Rocks and Minerals Unit.
You will find this packet and more in our Store!
Again, if you have any questions or problems, just contact me (liesl at homeschoolden dot com)! ~Liesl
Again, our Earth Science Unit Packet (post) is here and you can find out more about the Earth Science BUNDLE OPTIONS here!!
You might also be interested in these related posts:
- Learning about the Solar System – Including the hands-on kit the kids loved assembling and painting.
- Earth Science: Timeline of Earth Activity – A Montessori activity that is meant to impress kids with the enormity of time on Earth.
- Earth Science: Layers of the Earth hands-on Activity
- Earth’s Geologic Timeline – How scientists divide Earth’s history into eons and eras
- Learning about Latitude and Longitude, Using a Compass
- Earth Science: Plate Movement Hands-On Activities
- Earth Science: Layers of the Atmosphere
- Earth Science: Layers of the Earth Hands-On Activity
- Earth Science: Plate Movements, Pangea
- Plate Movement and Earthquakes
- Earth Science: Plate Movements and Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Mountain Making
- Earth Science: How Fold Mountains are Formed
- Topographic Maps
- World Biomes Pin Map
- Preschool Geography and More Preschool Geography Activities
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