Today I’d like to share a favourite Montessori-inspired activity for learning about the Earth’s layers. What better way to peel back the layers of the planet than by making one out of plasticine! Starting with a small yellow ball representing the inner core, students add layers of plasticine to represent the outer core, mantel, and crust, before adding some blue and green so that it becomes the planet we recognize. Then comes the big reveal, using a wet knife to avoid smudging the colours cut out a wedge and pull away to expose the complete layers. Have students label each layer and discuss what they know about each one.
Pro tip: make sure to put down a piece of scrap paper on each table and use tin plates for display to avoid messy plasticine residue!
If you’d like to try this lesson with your students you might like my ‘Layers Of The Earth Lesson’. It includes full instructions for this activity, as well as a cut and paste note about each layer (including depth, composition, and state), and a foldable note in which students can use websites and research books to write about each layer. The note will fit easily into a small composition book, and it comes in both metric and imperial, so you get to choose what works best for you! You can download the full lesson here.