Earth Science Homeschool Unit Study – 6 Weeks of Science Fun

Earth Science homeschool

This fun earth science homeschool unit study covers layers of the earth, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and more!

Kids love learning about the earth, and this earth science unit study was a blast in our homeschool!

It was originally designed for elementary schoolers in 2nd-5th grade, but can easily be adapted for younger and older grades too.

We focus on science twice a week for an hour, and we spent six weeks completing the unit, including one review day.

Keep reading to check it out!

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Free Printable Earth Science Unit Study workbook

To help make your earth science unit study a big success, you’ll definitely want to snag the free 10-page workbook from The Reluctant Homeschool Mama’s Free Resource Library!

free earth science homeschool workbook

Now let’s get into what topics to study and when!

Week 1 – The Structure of the Earth

Preparation

To prepare for the first week of your earth science unit study, you’ll want to have one copy of the Free Earth Science Printable Workbook printed out for each child.

For day one, I made a simple clay model of the Earth’s layers with this modeling clay. It was a great attention grabber, and my kids loved the colorful surprise when we cut the earth in half!

Additionally, you’ll need colored paper or construction paper, cardstock, glue, and brass plated fasteners for the art project.

What to do in Week 1

In week 1, it’s a good idea to begin by learning about the structure of the earth and the Earth’s crust.

Day 1

On day one, you can introduce the unit, and help your kids get familiar with some of the vocabulary they’ll learn with the Earth Science Wordsearch (it’s’ included in the free printable workbook!).

Read the whimsical book, Earth: My First 4.54 Billion Years – although it may feel a little young, it is a great way to ease into this unit study!

Finally, round out the day by presenting your kids your clay earth. Use a sharp knife and a cutting board to slowly and carefully cut it in half and reveal the layers of the earth.

(It might be a good idea to have extra clay on hand in case your kids want to make their own versions!)

Day 2

On day 2, read the book A Trip to the Center of the Earth by Janet Levy to your kids (or have them read it to each other!). You may want to have your kids in upper grades take notes or make an outline.

Next, help your kids create a visual representation of the layers of the earth with colored paper. You can help them learn to use a protractor to make the different paper circles that represent the layers of the earth.

Kids can glue each layer on top of the other, but be sure NOT to glue down the outermost blue and green layer. Instead, use a brass-plated fastener to attach it through the layers of colored paper.

Finally, glue the entire earth to a piece of cardstock and have your kids make a key describing which color represents which layer of the earth.

Homeschool Unit Studies – What are They? Why do Moms Love Them?

Week 2 – Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics

Preparation

For week 2, you’ll want to print out this plate tectonics puzzle from PMF IAS.

For the demonstrations on day 2, you’ll need one orange, some jelly, graham crackers, paper plates, and Cool Whip.

What to do in Week 2

In week 2, you’ll move into discussing continental drift and plate tectonics.

There are some really fun demonstrations that can really help your kids remember the concepts presented!

Day 1

Depending on the ages of your kids, you may like either of the following books to read together:

If you’re kids like videos, this is a fantastic video about Alfred Wegener, the father of plate tectonic theory.

Day 2

This is a day to do some fun plate tectonics demonstrations and maybe get a little messy too!

For the first demo, you’ll need an orange, some jelly, and a knife. Simply peel the orange, trying to keep as much of the peel together as you can.

Once the orange is completely peeled, spread jelly all over the orange and try to replace the peel.

Let your kids observe the cracks in the “crust” and see how the jelly (aka magma) flows up between the cracks in the peel.

For more details on this great plate tectonics demonstration, go to Science Sparks right here.

Another great plate tectonics demonstration is found on Playdough to Plato right here.

You’ll need two graham cracker halves and a paper plate spread with whip cream or Cool Whip for each child.

By placing each graham cracker half in the whipped cream, your kids can demonstrate what happens along different types of faults!

plate boundaries earth science

Week 3 – Earthquakes

Preparation

For week 3, you’ll need an old binder, two large rubber bands, 4 ping pong balls, and a large, flat LEGO plate like this.

What to do in Week 3

This was the week my kids were waiting for! You could probably spend two weeks here, but we wanted to keep things moving at a good pace.

Day 1

We started our earthquake study by reading lots of great books about earthquakes!

Here are some of our favorites:

After the reading, it’s a good idea to spend some time filling out the earthquake pages in the Reluctant Homeschool Mama’s Earth Science workbook.

Then we spent the rest of this day getting ready for an awesome earthquake LEGO demonstration from Scientific American that we carried out on our next science day.

(Basically, my kids had to build 3 LEGO towers in all different heights, but with the same dimensions for base width and length. #favoriteschooldayever)

Day 2

If you had your kids prep their towers for the LEGO demonstration, it’s a great idea to start the day off by carrying it out!

Basically, you need to cut the cover of the binder apart, so you have two strong equal-sized pieces.

Stack them on top of each other and put two rubber bands around them, near the edges.

Then insert a ping pong ball in between the binder covers, one in each of the four corners. Finally, slide the LEGO flat plate under the rubber bands. Now you have a “shake plate!”

Have your kids take turns putting their LEGO towers on the base plate and pull the top binder cover to the side to create a lateral shaking movement.

shake plate for earthquake demonstration

For a list of great scientific observation questions to ask your kids, check out the article on Scientific American here!

Additionally, we watched this great video that explained how seismometers work right here!

If you’re interested in making your own seismometer, check out this article here!

Week 4 – Volcanoes

Preparation

This week is a little lighter on preparation, but it is helpful to be familiar with the rules of Volcanic Disaster and locate the Magic School Bus Blows Its Top video.

Day 1

As usual, it’s a great idea to read some books about volcanoes before you get into games, experiments, or demonstrations.

Here are our recommended books about volcanoes for your homeschool:

To be honest, we needed a lighter day, so we ended up watching The Magic School Bus Blows Its Top and called it good. #reallifehomeschool

volcano earth science

Day 2

This would be a great time to work on the volcano worksheets in the Reluctant Homeschool Mama’s Earth Science workbook!

Additionally, there is a fantastic card game called Volcanic Disaster that’s no longer in print, but it is a lot of fun and helped our kids learn a lot about different volcanoes, historic eruptions, precursors to eruptions, and more. If you can get your hands on it, it is worth it!

My kids enjoyed it so much that they wanted to play twice.

And then I found them reading and studying the cards later! That’s a homeschool win right there!

This awesome Volcanic Eruption Lava Lab and Eruption Kit would also be a ton of fun to do while you’re studying volcanoes too!

Week 5 – Tsunamis

Preparation

For the demonstration this week, you’ll need a large, shallow rectangular plastic bin, some small loose gravel, an old newspaper, small cardboard milk containers, and a pitcher. Other than that, this week is pretty easy!

Our tsunami study was pretty short, but it was powerful!

tsunami study

Day 1

As usual, we did our main reading for this topic on the first science day of the week. These books were both fantastic read-alouds:

  • How Does an Earthquake Become a Tsunami? by Linda Tagliaferro – look for it at your library! It also has a great review of everything already covered so far.
  • When the Earth Shakes by Simon Winchester – this Smithsonian book covers earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis, so it’s absolutely perfect for this entire unit!

Day 2

This is the tsunami demonstration we did!

It’s awesome because it helps kids see what can be done to prevent the destruction caused by tsunamis.

Week 6 – Review

It’s always a great idea to plan one extra week in any unit study.

This allows for any missed days during the previous five weeks, gives you time to review major concepts, catch up on any worksheets overlooked, or provides time to go on a field trip!

If you’re all caught up and are looking for more things to add to your earth science unit study, keep on reading! There are so many ways to incorporate this unit into other school subjects.

Pin the image below to come back to this article in the future!

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Additional ideas for your earth science homeschool unit study

There are lots of ways you can adapt this earth science unit study to fit your homeschool needs!

First, you can select your own books for each of the topics, depending on what you already have at home and whether or not you’ll be checking out books from the library.

If you’ll be using your local library to check out earth science books, start with call number 551in the children’s nonfiction section.

Additionally, if you want to find books about historic natural disasters, look at call number 959.8.

Here are some other ways to work this earth science unit study into other homeschool subjects:

Literature suggestion

The classic children’s book, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell describes a tsunami.

Interestingly enough, it’s not entirely accurate because the tsunami hits before the earthquake is felt. See if your kids notice this discrepancy!

Language Arts projects

You could have your kids create a newspaper about a major earthquake, volcanic eruption, or tsunami.

In addition to writing a great cover story, they could draw illustrations, include a weather report, feature want ads, and include articles about the cause of the natural disaster they’re describing.

Earth science – history crossover

Similarly to the language arts newspaper project, you could have your kids create a newspaper about a historical natural disaster, such as :

  • The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in ancient Rome
  • 1888 eruption of Krakatoa
  • 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fires
  • 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens
  • 2004 Sumatra Tsunami
  • 2011 Japanese Tsunami

If you’d prefer not to make this a huge project, you could just ask your kids to create a newspaper article or clipping.

earthquake

Geography study

Your kids could find and label major volcanoes on a world map, use latitude and longitude to find the location of volcanoes, map out the Ring of Fire, label the oceans and mid-ocean ridges, and more!

(There’s already a fun latitude and longitude volcano-finding activity in The Reluctant Homeschool Mama’s Free Earth Science workbook!)

Art history inclusion

There are two major works of art that can be easily included in this earth science unit study!

  1. The Scream by Edvard Munch. The red sky background in this familiar oil painting was actually caused by the explosion of Krakatoa in 1888!
  2. The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai. You could easily discuss this incredibly popular woodcut while covering the 2011 tsunami in Japan.

Field trips

If you have a great science museum nearby, chances are there will be an exhibit or two dedicated to earth science. So don’t hesitate to check it out!

And if you have the opportunity to travel to a national park soon, these would all be great options to go along with this unit study:

  • Mount Rainier National Park in Washington
  • Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park in Hawai’i
  • Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming
  • Crater Lake National Park in Oregon
  • Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming
  • Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska
  • Sunset Crater National Monument in Arizona
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park in California

Final thoughts about this earth science homeschool unit study

This earth science homeschool unit study has been one of our favorites!

There are so many fantastic resources available for kids about earthquakes and volcanoes, so this could be a relatively low-cost earth science curriculum for six weeks or more!

And don’t forget to download your free Earth Science Unit Study Workbook right here!

Related articles about homeschool unit studies:

5 Easy Steps to Creating Your Own Homeschool Unit Study

Olympics Homeschool Unit Study – 11 Fun Ideas Your Kids Will Love

What are your thoughts about this earth science homeschool unit study curriculum?

Pin the image below to come back to this article again!

homeschool earth science

Earth Science Homeschool Unit Study - 6 Weeks of Science FunEarth Science Homeschool Unit Study - 6 Weeks of Science FunEarth Science Homeschool Unit Study - 6 Weeks of Science FunEarth Science Homeschool Unit Study - 6 Weeks of Science Fun

Hi there! I’m so glad you’re here! I’m Jen, a former reluctant homeschool mom who is ready to help you actually enjoy homeschooling too. Read more here…

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