Clay Model Of the Earth’s Layers

Making a 3D model is an easy hands-on way for kids to learn what the Earth is made of.

We read about the Earth’s layers, to begin with, in The Magic Schoolbus – Inside the Earth.

Then we grabbed some clay and the children used the pictures from the book to make their own models. (I was going to make one too, until I realised how much plasticine we were going to get through!)

First roll a small ball of clay for the solid metal inner core.

The inner core is about 1,500 miles in diameter. We used an atlas to calculate that this is equivalent to the distance from London to Madrid (or San Diego to Memphis).

Next the melted metal outer core.

Then the solid rock mantle.

Followed by the Earth’s crust (one layer in our models, but in reality, layers of sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rock).  We looked at these when we simulated the rock cycle with crayons.

And finally, the oceans and continents.

When you’re done, use a sharp knife to cut your Earth in half to reveal it in cross-section.

C(9) used a toothpick to label the layers.

Top Tips For Making A Clay Model Earth (What We Might Do Differently…)

• Use play dough rather than plasticine, especially in winter. Cold plasticine takes a long time for little hands to mould.
• If you do use plasticine (we did), warm it up in the microwave – this makes it much easier to work with. On the plus side, our clay Earths will last as long as the real one!
• Don’t make your inner core too big. We were surprised how much more clay was required to make each successive layer. (Good learning!)

Hat Tip

My original inspiration for this came from Meet the Dubiens – Jill’s lovely photo was one of my very first Pinterest pins.

Further Resources

History and Geography Meme at All Things Beautiful

Science Sunday at Adventures in Mommydom

Hobbies and Handicrafts at Highhill Homeschool

Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners

Look What We Did at Hammock Tracks

Weekly Wrap Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Money Saving Monday at Life’s Little Adventures

24 thoughts on “Clay Model Of the Earth’s Layers”

1. Another cool experiment! I’m so glad you’re doing the rock cycle and related earth science topics, because we’re about to start on them. I’m following your posts closely. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

1. Thank you! I’ll look forward to reading about your earth science studies. You’re very thorough so I’ll know what to come back to next time we visit rocks!

2. You write such clear posts. I must take lessons from you. I ramble a little….(you might have noticed!).
I am so nicking this idea when we do geology. I’ve seen it done with papier mache- looked like a lot of work, but this? this looks so simple and easy, and such lovely bright colours!

1. I love your writing style – I think it’s far more interesting for regular readers! (But thanks for the compliment :-))

Yes I’m all for quick and easy (well, after I’d discovered microwaving the plasticine)!

1. Thanks, Julie. Now following your board!

3. I most definitely consider this geography! Thanks again for linking up to the history and geography meme.

1. Thanks for hosting, Phyllis. There are some lovely ideas linked up.

4. This is a great activity — I’m going to pin this and attempt it with my kids next month! Thank you — so glad you linked with Collage Friday 🙂

1. Thank you so much for the pin and for stopping to leave a comment, Mary. I love Collage Friday!

5. Lovely to meet you! I’m a first-time visitor and immediately chose to pin your post for a future activity! Thank you for sharing it.

1. Hi Carrie and welcome! Thank you for taking the time to say hello 🙂 Your blog is beautiful. I’ve re-pinned your “How to draw birds” pin for our pond study board – thanks! Lucinda

6. What a great project to do with the kids. Found you at Mary’s Homegrown Learners Collage Friday! Cant wait to stop back next week!
Melissa

1. Thank you so much for stopping to say hi, Melissa!
Lucinda

7. I love this post. I would like to invite you to link up this post to my Money Saving Monday Link Up.

1. Hi Stephanie, thanks so much, and for the invite – I’ve linked up – looks great! Lucinda

8. What COOL things you did! I love all the hands on activities. It makes it so much more fun and kids remember things like this so much longer. This is just full of great resources! Great post Lula!

1. Thanks so much for your enthusiastic support, Karen – I appreciate it! Lucinda

9. What a great way to teach a concept. The earth and its layers will be remembered forever by your children. Thanks for sharing at Look What We Did…Pinned to the look what we did science board!

1. Thank you, Savannah – for your kind comment and the pin. Oh and for hosting Look What We Did … so many brilliant ideas to do!

10. I apparently forgot to comment, when I came by earlier…… Sigh. The extra tips you threw in at the end are awesome, and will be very welcome when we do this someday.

Thanks for linking up to Science Sunday!

1. Thanks, Ticia. I love the way you pin things – you give such useful comments. Thanks for hosting the link up 🙂