Earthquake Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Teach your students what an earthquake is, how they happen, and other interesting facts with this lesson plan. A text lesson anchors learning and activities reinforce learning. Test understanding with a quick quiz.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain what an earthquake is
  • describe how and why earthquakes happen
  • name ways earthquakes are measured
  • discuss earthquake safety


1 - 1.5 hours


  • Copies of the lesson Earthquakes Lesson for Kids, one for each student
  • Graham crackers
  • Whip cream
  • Paper plates
  • Water
  • Play dough in three colors
  • Craft sticks
  • Water bottle
  • Tape
  • Rulers
  • Markers

Key Vocabulary

  • Earthquake
  • Tectonic plates
  • Fault

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.1

Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.2

Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3

Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.4

Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.

Warm-Up and Preparation

  • Prepare for the lesson by first dividing the class into partner pairs and giving each pair a small amount of each color of play dough.
  • Instruct students to flatten each color of dough out to about a one-inch thickness, then stack. They should now have a three-layer piece. Ask them to set their play dough aside.
  • Now ask students to brainstorm what they know about earthquakes and record. After five minutes, have them share their prior knowledge as a whole class.

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