Layers of the Earth

Brittany Zae

This lesson is designed to help students understand that the Earth has a layered structure.

Grade Level: 3 - 5th


Length of Time: About 45 Minutes

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Objectives & Outcomes

Students will be able to describe the structure of the interior of the Earth, name and identity the layers of the Earth, and interpret a graph of the approximate thickness of the Earth’s layers.

Materials Needed

  • globe
  • computer with internet
  • metric ruler
  • colored pencils
  • graph of Earth's layers (can be found online)


Opening to Lesson

Introduce lesson with YouTube video review:


Body of Lesson

Direct Teaching

Show the students the globe. Define the term diameter, then tell them that the Earth’s diameter is about 12,760km or about 7,900 miles. Put this distance in context by comparing it to a distance students are familiar with, such as the distance from their town or city to a distant, but familiar location.

Guided Practice 1

Explore students’ ideas about the inside of the Earth. Is it the same all the way to the center? Distribute art supplies and ask them to draw what they think the inside of the Earth is like, then write a paragraph describing the drawing. (This activity will help you to know what background they are bringing to the topic.)

Independent Practice

Distribute a graph of the Earth's Layers. Ask students to color each of the Earth’s layers a different color. Color the area from the beginning of the lithosphere out to the surface yellow, then go over the outermost section with blue to indicate the crust. (The overlapping colors, which should produce green for the crust, will help students to understand that the crust is part of the lithosphere.)


Ask students to discuss what they learned.

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Assessment & Evaluation

Through guided questions, close monitoring and informal observation; the teacher will be able to assess student’s ability and understanding of the subject being introduced. Through individually assessing during independent practice and reviewing during guided practice the teacher will be able to evaluate students.

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