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.
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.
What is the Earth Made of? Earth Science Experiments for 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.
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!
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.
Now begin layering up your earth by flattening the yellow ball and putting it around the red ball layer.
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.
Now use the green playdough to arrange planets on the outside of your earth. (this would also make an excellent project for Earth day!)
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!
Above you can see a view of the inside of the earth with the parts labeled. Isn’t it pretty!
Taking a Core Sample Experiment
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.
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.
They both immediately said Ooooh!! I get it! I couldn’t wish for anything else! Science fun that my kids GET!