Science is full of concepts that are a little abstract and you can't actually experience yourself. Things like there is zero gravity in space or the fact that in the centre of the Earth the core is very hot and liquid. However, they do form part of the science curriculum and one of the best ways to get children to understand the concepts is through activities and modelling what is happening. Over the years I developed a variety of different ways to teach the concept of the Layers of the Earth, including An Earth Sectional Model and Earth Layer Sugar Cookies, today I'm sharing another method that I used in my classroom using one of my favourite modelling materials Salt Dough. It's easy to make, and when I did it in class we could make the models in a lesson and leave them to dry till the next week's lesson and by then we had our 3D Earth Models ready to photograph and add to the science books with labels and annotations.
Materials Needed to make your Salt Dough Layer of the Earth Model
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Classic Salt Dough Recipe - as this will air dry over a couple of days
Flag push pins or to label the layers of the earth
How to make your Layers of the Earth Model out of Salt Dough
- Mix up a batch of the classic salt dough - for this recipe, we won't be oven drying the model as it has been known to crack when you do this instead it's best to leave it to air dry.
- Divide your salt doing into sections - you will need an inner core, outer core, mantle and crust.
- To the section for the inner colour add red food colouring and mix - you may want to wear gloves to protect your hands from the colour.
- Form a ball with this to represent the inner core of the earth.
- With the section, you have put aside for the outer core mix yellow and red food colouring to make orange and create a sheet.
- Place your inner core ball in the middle of the sheet and mould it around.
- Roll the ball to make it round.
- Repeat step 5 to 7 adding yellow food colouring to the mantle.
- When it came to the crust we decided to form the oceans and the land masses as well as the polar regions. So divide your remaining salt dough into 3 sections.
- Colour the biggest one blue, then green and leave the smallest section for the polar regions white.
- Roll into sheets and place over the mantle making continents and oceans as well as your polar regions.
- With the earth complete cut in half to show the layers that you have made.
- Now before you set it aside to dry use a pencil or the pin that you will use for labelling the sections to put some holes in the model.
- Set your models aside to dry for a couple of days to a week - you may need to turn them over occasionally.
- Once dry place in your flags or pins to represent the different layers and then add to explanations as to the layers of the Earth.
You can find some great books in our recommendations for rock and Earth Science to help with research into what makes up the layers of the Earth and more.
More Layers of the Earth Projects for Kids
Make and eat these delicious Layers of the Earth Sugar Cookies
Create your own 3D Layers of the Earth Section Model with our downloadable net.
Resources for Learning About the Layers of the Earth
There are many great resources that I could recommend for learning about the Layers of the Earth but I've picked my top 3 which I think are worth purchasing or borrowing if you can.
My first pick is the Layers of the Earth Sectional Model from Learning Resources. Although very similar to our own DIY version made here this model splits apart and has detail included like the temperature of the sections of the earth in each layer.
Another layers of the earth model this one though lets your children take apart the earth. For children that struggle to grasp the concept about the layers this is a way to get them to dig down into the earth themselves as they peel away the layers.
This Layers of the Earth display poster is a great addition to your classroom or homeschool room. Instead of reaching for a book you can bring it out and share or display on the wall when you are working on this area of study. The bonus this version has activities and more in-depth facts on the back as well.
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