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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Paper Plate Earth

In honor of Earth Day, the superheroes and I decided to do a craft, instead of an experiment.  This is a super EASY craft that takes only a few minutes to set up and complete and it looks awesome!  I’m sure you have these supplies laying around the house.

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

  • White plate (or a large white cardboard/cardstock circle)
  • blue and green tissue paper cut into squares (leftover from all those gifts your kids receive!)
  • Glue and scissors

Cover the entire plate (circle) with glue.  We just spread ours around but you could also use a paintbrush.

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Using the green and blue tissue paper squares (we ended up using leftover streamers cut into squares) let your little ones create their version of the world map.  We looked at pictures of the Earth first and discussed what the green and blue represent.

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Let it dry.  That’s it!  You can hole punch it and hang it near a window.  Simple.  Easy.

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Here’s where I got my idea from: http://happyhooligans.ca/earth-day-crafts-for-kids/

Salt Dough Dinosaur Fossils

By far the biggest hit of my Dinosaur theme Science class are the salt dough fossils.  So easy to make the dough and the kids love playing with it like playdough.  And best of all?  You can bake them, paint them and save them or give them as gifts!  With the holidays right around the corner, you have to try this!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • toy animals, dinosaurs, anything that can leave a fun imprint!

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Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Add about 1 cup lukewarm water and knead until you have a nice dough.  If it gets too sticky, add more flour.  That’s it!

Break off the dough and flatten it to about 1/2 inch thick.

IMG_2315We used a bunch of dinosaur skeletons and toy dinosaurs to make imprints of their feet and their skeletons.

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When your fossils are done, bake them in the oven at 200°F for about 3 hours.  They should be fairly hard by the time they cool.

IMG_0328You can paint your fossils and spray them with acrylic spray to save them as keepsakes.

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Extension:

A fun way to play with these fossils is to have the kids make them with their favorite toy animal prints and then later try to match the footprints with the animals.  A different twist to a matching game for little superheroes and a fabulous way to build their reasoning skills.

Click on the link to see where I got the idea from and for more details:

http://www.loveplayandlearn.com/2013/02/salt-dough-recipe.html

Dinosaur Eggs

As part of my dinosaur theme, I like to set up a “Dinosaur Dig”.  One of the treasures my Mini-Paleontologists dig for are fossils.  These easy homemade Dinosaur Eggs are a great way for your superheroes to use their problem solving skills to crack them open and discover what’s inside and how to get it out.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Cornstarch
  • Sand (I used some sand we got from the beach as well as play sand from Home Depot)
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Water
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Old Pot (or one you don’t mind getting scratched up from the sand)
  • Some dinosaurs (or other small animal figures-I got mine from the dollar store)
  • Tools: brushes, toothbrushes, plastic knives (metal butter knives if your kids are old enough), magnifying glassesIMG_2320

To make the dinosaur eggs:

Add 1 cup of sand, 1/2 cup of cornstarch and 1/2 tsp of Cream of Tartar to an old pot.  I say an old pot in case you are worried about it getting scratched from the sand.

Add 1/2 cup of water and mix over medium-low heat.  It will be watery at first but will slowly thicken into a dough.

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Once the dough has formed, place it on a cutting board to cool a bit.

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I used dinosaur skulls and small dinosaurs for my eggs.

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Place a dinosaur or skull into the chunk of dough and shape into an egg.

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Let it dry overnight.  I put ours out in the sun and they were rock hard the next morning.

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Give your kids the tools to break it open.  Or hide them in a sand box.  Or make it part of a dinosaur dig!

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The superheroes used a knife and their hands to crack the eggs open.

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They used brushes and magnifying glasses to examine the dinosaurs and clean them off.

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Science Behind the Activity:

This is an excellent way to develop fine motor skills as well as enhance problem solving skills.  The superheroes tried many different ways to get the eggs open, using their hands and tools.  Once they discovered the skulls, I gave them a chart to try to identify which skull belonged to which dinosaur.