Clay Model Of the Earth’s Layers

How to make a clay earth

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.

the magic school bus 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).

diameter of the Earth's inner core

Next the melted metal outer core.

how to make a clay earth

Then the solid rock mantle.

how to make a clay model of the earth

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.

how to make a clay model of the earth

And finally, the oceans and continents.


how to make a model clay earth

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

how to make a clay model of the earth


how to make a clay model earth


how to make a clay model Earth

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

how to make a clay model of the Earth

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

How to make a clay model  earth

Magic School Bus Inside the Earth

 The Crayon Rock Cycle

I’m appreciatively linking up with:

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

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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)!

  3. 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 🙂

  4. 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

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. Dear Copyright Holder,

    Oxford University Press Southern Africa would like to use the following image in an text book we are preparing.
    Rwanda Master Geography S1 Learner’s Book
    We will use the image inside our text book
    We will be making a print and digital book
    To be distributed in Rwanda
    Language: English
    The image we need is of a clay model of the earth inside. We found the image on your website:
    Kind regards,
    Aletta Marais

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