Earth Science Experiments for Kids #1 – What is the Earth Made of?

Kids are going to love learning about the earth with these fun hands on earth science activities for homeschool elementary kids. Learn about the layers with playdough, take a core sample using a cupcake, and lots more fun ideas.
Earth Science Experiments for Kids - Kids will have fun learning about the Layers of the Earth with inside out playdough earth, cupcake layers, and so much fun with these science projects for homeschooling

This is the first of our 4 week series on Earth Science Experiments for Kids.

Today’s hands-on Homeschool Science lesson will help preschool, kindergarten, and elementary students discover what the earth is made of and how know that by taking a core sample.

Earth Science Unit for Homeschool Elementary Kids

We started our Homeschool Earth Science unit by reading Planet Earth / Inside Out by Gail Gibbons. I found this to be a good resource with nice clear illustrations. I often make the mistake of trying to procure 4-5 books per topic and then never use all of them. This was my favorite of all the ones I read through at the library. I will point out that if you are a Creationist who believes in a young earth (as we do) you will want to skim over a couple parts. 

Earth Science Experiments for Kids: Layers of the Earth for Kids

To help the kids really understand the layers we did an Earth Science Experiment for kids. I wanted to help them visualize it. Studies show we remember better if we see, hear, say & do things! So we made a model of the earth’s layers out of playdough. We talked about each layer as we made it. Then we repeated the layers again after we cut it open. As a visual learner myself this unit really helped me retain the information and it was such a pretty earth!

playdough earth layers

You will need 6 balls of play dough (store bought or homemade playdough).  Make the red ball the smallest and increase slightly in size for each remaining color (yellow, orange, purple) ending with the blue ball being the largest. You will also need some green to shape the planets on the outside of your earth.

adding layers to the earth

Now begin layering up your earth by flattening the yellow ball and putting it around the red ball layer.

science is fun

Pinch the ball closed so it looks like you just have a yellow ball. Repeat with the remaining layers one by one ending with the blue layer. Use Planet Earth Inside Out by Gail Gibbons to make your layers as accurately as possible.
Earth Day Playdough Preschool  Actiivty

Now use the green playdough to arrange planets on the outside of your earth.  (this would also make an excellent project for Earth day!)

Playdough Earth cross section

Now for the fun part of this earth science experiment. Using a knife cut the playdough earth ball in half. Now you will see all the earth’s layers!

Playdough Earth layers

Above you can see a view of the inside of the earth with the parts labeled.  Isn’t it pretty!

Earth Science Experiments for Kids: Taking a Core Sample

Next I posed  a question to the kids, “How do we know what is in the middle of the earth?” Goofy (7) immediately remembered how HOT it is and that we couldn’t “go there.” So we talked about how Scientists (Geologists) take core samples.  To help them really understand what a core sample is we did a Cupcake Core Sample. I made cupcakes with several different layers and then frosted them brown (dirt) on top. 
Earth science experiments for kids - taking a core sample   looking inside core sample

The kids used a straw and stuck it straight in. They pulled it out and could see a sample of what was in the cupcake.  If you look carefully you can see a brown, purple, green, and yellow layer in the straw. They thought it was VERY cool! Then to help them really get the correlation with the cupcake and playdough earth model I cut the cupcake down the middle.

our core sample homeschool experiment

They both immediately said Ooooh!! I get it! I couldn’t wish for anything else! Science fun that my kids GET!

Great Homeschool Earth Science resources we used & loved:

More Homeschool Science

Beth Gorden
Beth Gorden

Beth Gorden is a homeschooling mother of six who strives to enjoy every moment with her kids through hands-on learning, crafts, new experiences, and lots of playing together. Beth is also the creator and author of 123 Homeschool 4 Me where she shares 1000+ free printables, creative homeschool lessons, crafts, and other fun ideas to help preschool and homeschooling families have fun while learning and exploring together.