How to Make a Model of the Earth's Layers

Learning how to make a model of the Earth's layers is a great way for kids to understand the complex things that are happening under our feet. The Earth model requires just a few simple materials and is an impressive visual project for science classes.

Materials Needed to Make an Earth Model

  • Styrofoam ball. A small to medium ball works best. You can build a larger version, but you'll need more materials to complete it.
  • Red paint
  • Orange clay
  • Yellow clay
  • Blue clay
  • Green clay
  • Toothpicks
  • Thin masking tape
  • Fine-tip permanent marker

Assembling the Model

  1. Paint the Styrofoam ball red and allow it to dry. This will be the core of your model Earth.
  2. Make small flags by taking four toothpicks and attaching a piece of masking tape to each one. Cut a four-inch section of masking tape. Place a toothpick in the middle of the masking tape and fold it over onto itself. This creates a two-inch flag of masking tape on the end of each toothpick.
  3. Label the toothpick flags Inner Core, Outer Core, Mantle and Crust.
  4. Roll out your orange clay into a sheet. Place the sheet over the red Styrofoam ball, covering it entirely except for a triangular wedge. 
  5. Roll out your yellow clay into a sheet. Place the yellow sheet over the orange layer, leaving the same triangular wedge of red Styrofoam exposed, along with a small wedge of orange clay.
  6. Roll out your blue clay into a sheet. Use the blue sheet to cover your yellow clay, leaving the wedges of red, orange and yellow exposed. Each of these triangular wedges needs to be a little larger than the one underneath, so that viewers can get a good look at the layers.
  7. Form small chunks of green clay to represent the land masses on Earth. These land masses should vaguely resemble the continents they represent. Don't worry if they are not perfect. Place these on top of the blue clay layer.
  8. Use your toothpick flags to label the various layers. The red layer is the inner core. The orange layer is the outer core, the yellow layer is the mantle. The crust label can be placed in the blue or green layers.
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