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Today I am participating in a fun series of posts to go along with the Let’s Read and Find Out Science books. I chose to share and idea for the book How Mountains Are Made by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld. For our activity, we made plate tectonics with kinetic sand! FUN stuff, you guys! I also made a printable diagram of the different types of plate tectonics that you can use in your teaching.
Have your kids ever had kinetic sand? It is seriously fun to play with! I thought it would be the perfect way to illustrate how a mountain is made through the shifting of the tectonic plates. WE made some homemade kinetic sand with various colors of sand.
How to Make Kinetic Sand
1 lb colored sand
3 Tbsp Cornstarch
2 Tbsp Dish Soap
1 Tbsp Water
Mix well. If it is too dry add a touch more water. If it is not moldable, add a touch more soap.
To do the plate tectonics with the kinetic sand I used a small plastic box and cut it in half through the center. I put them together overlapping the two sides and filled it with layers of different colors of sand to represent the different layers of rock in the earth.
I put a couple of wooden blocks on the side to contain the sand, then pushed the two sides together. This forced the two edges together and created hills and mountains!
I love how the different layers fold and buckle just like they do in real mountains. When the tectonic plates move toward each other they press together folding and buckling the laters of the ground and forming hills and mountains. This is an example of the convergent boundary.
You can pull it apart and do it again, too! My kids had to try it again and again of course!
Then once you are all done, the sand is incredibly fun to play with!
As I mentioned, I made a printable set of plate tectonic diagrams. There are four different types of plate tectonics, the continents “puzzle” and the internal structure of the layers of the Earth. There are also blank ones without labels so your students can learn and label them on their own. These are available free to download now!
Read Books on Plate Tectonics:
How Mountains Are Made by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld
Earthquakes! by Prodigy Wizard
The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic by Kanani K. M. Lee
Why do Tectonic Plates Crash and Slip? by Baby Professor
Fault Lines & Tectonic Plates by Kathleen M. Reilly
The Adventures of Earth by Dan Green
A Smart Kids Guide to Tetchy Tectonic Plates by Liam Saxon
Plate Tectonics: The Engine Inside the Earth by Judith Hubbard
What is the Theory of Plate Tectonics? by Craig Saunders
Want a free more geology ideas? Check out these posts, too:
The Let’s Read and Find Out series is hosted by My Joy Filled Life. See all of the other posts and ideas there!