Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Earth Science: Plate Movements, Pangaea

We were still talking about plate tectonics on Friday. We talked about how scientists theorize that the continents were once connected as one giant super-continent, Pangaea. I cut out South America and Africa and asked them to fit them together as best the could. When they didn't fit together perfectly I asked the kids why the continents wouldn't match perfectly after 250 million years? We talked about erosion and the power of water (waves, storms and such--like the poor people who endured the cyclone in the Cairns region of Australia in the past week or so).

Next we did a little activity to show how continents could move without some giant hand pulling them apart.  This was perfect for the kids, since it let them "see" the continents move without our touching them.  I cut the continents out of foam.  The kids folded construction paper.  First we set the continents close together with a piece of playdough to weight the continents down.
As the kids pulled each side of the construction paper, they could see the continents move apart. We got this idea from Robert Gardners" Earth-Shaking Science Projects About Planet Earth. (affiliate link)

The red paper represents the mantle and the next experiment helps the kids understand how and why magma flows.
The mantle is hotter than the crust. This is a terrible picture, but it helped the kids see that heat rises. We took ice cold water and poured it into a jar.  We dyed some water green and heated it up. Then LD sucked the hot water with a turkey baster (but I think a eye dropper might work better) and slowly let out the hot/green water.  The kids could see the green water streaming upwards toward the surface.  This helped the kids understand why magma/lava from the mantle would move up/out of the crust and/or shift about to affect the earth's plates.

Every few years, we circle around to cover basic material again. You may be interested in the Earth Science Unit we did more recently -- and be sure to check out our Earth Science Unit Study Packet It includes worksheets about the solar system, the layers of the Earth, plate tectonics, the ring of fire, earthquake activity and volcanoes. I also included more than a dozen hands-on activities we did with this unit including activities about plate tectonics, using a compass, earthquakes, volcanoes, instructions on how to make a shake table and more!

Find out more by visiting this post over at our new location: Earth Science Packet

Or you can purchase it by clicking on the link below: 

Once you pay for this packet, you will immediately receive a link to download this file (which will open in a browser window).  You will also receive an email from Sendowl (the service I use) TO YOUR PAYPAL EMAIL ADDRESS, which will have a link you can click on to download the Earth Science unit.  (It will say, "You can download your digital products..." with a clickable link.)  Of course, if you have any issues just email me at -- liesl at homeschoolden dot com.  You can also reach me by using the contact form on the blog or can reach me over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page.

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In this unit, we especially liked these resources. These are affiliate links:

 See how to make a shake table  at this post here:

Hope you visit our new location at homeschoolden.com (the links above take you there!) or come visit us at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page. :) Don’t forget to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter! ~Liesl

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.

P.S. We have lots of other units. Here are the links to check those out




Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.


  1. I still remember when I was in elementary school, staring at a world map and realizing that the two continents could fit together like a puzzle. I thought I had discovered something nobody else had and I ran off to tell the teacher lol