Layers of the Earth

I wanted to show my superheroes what our Earth looked like from the inside.  They’ve seen plenty of images of the outside with the oceans and the continents.  I found this great model Earth activity to do with them that would show them all the layers underneath the Earth’s surface.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Playdoh in the following colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, brown
  • Dental Floss

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I couldn’t find a single pack of brown playdoh anywhere so I made my own batch using a recipe given to me by son’s preschool teacher many moons ago.

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I made a large batch of playdoh and used brown liquid watercolor to get the color I wanted.  So mine is definitely not meant for the mouth.  I must admit, the homemade playdoh is so much softer and easier to play and mold with.  But I digress…

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We first took the red playdoh and made a very small ball with it.  (We should have made ours smaller).  The red ball represents the Earth’s inner core, a solid mass of iron.

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We next took the orange playdoh and flattened it out a bit and then wrapped the red ball inside.  We rolled it around to smooth out the bumps.  The orange layer represents the outer core, a liquid mass of iron and nickel.

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We repeated the previous step with yellow playdoh to form the Earth’s mantle and then added the brown on top of that to represent the Earth’s crust.  The mantle is thick solid rocky substance.  The crust is the thinnest part of the Earth made up primarily of rock.

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The boys ended up using a roller to flatten out the larger layers and it was much easier.

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On top of the crust, we added bits of blue and green to form the oceans and the continents.  The crust is covered up by the oceans and only the tips of the crust protrude above the oceans as continents and landmasses.

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My middle son wanted to hold the “world” in his hands!

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Finally, our Earth was complete.  But we need to see our layers, right?  So, we used a piece of dental floss to cut through the Earth.

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Why floss?  Because floss will cut through smoothly without smooshing your Earth into a lopsided blob the way a knife will.

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We got a nice clean cut and were able to see all of the layers of the Earth distinctly.

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The superheroes loved it!  And then they were ready to just play with the playdoh.  The good thing is that I was easily able to put the Earth back together to show my Tiny Tots in class the following day.

If I were to do this again, I would make the mantle layer (yellow) thicker and the inner core (red) a bit smaller.

Here’s where I got my idea from: http://www.meetthedubiens.com/2011/04/playdoh-planet-earth-and-some-babbling.html

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