Earth's Internal Layers Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your students about the internal layers of the Earth with this lesson plan. They will view a video lesson about the layers, take a quiz that is related, and participate in a hands-on activity that will reinforce new concepts about the layers.

Learning Objectives

After studying this lesson, your students will be able to:

  • Describe the various layers of the Earth
  • Differentiate between the asthenosphere and the lithosphere
  • Explain some of the characteristics of the various layers of the Earth


1-1.5 Hours


Curriculum Standards

  • MS-ESS2-1

Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth's materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.

  • MS-ESS2-2

Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales.

Key Vocabulary

  • Asthenosphere
  • Continental crust
  • Inner core
  • Iron
  • Lithosphere
  • Lower mantle
  • Nickel
  • Oceanic crust
  • Outer core
  • Upper mantle


  • Inform your students they will be learning about the internal layers of the Earth.
  • Ask them if anyone is familiar with this particular subject. What do the students think the interior of the planet is made of? Why?
  • Review the ten key vocabulary terms.
  • Read the introduction, start the video Earth's Internal Layers: Crust, Mantle & Core, and pause for the first time at 1:28.
    • What elements compose most of the Earth's inner and outer core?
    • Are the inner and outer cores liquid or solid?
    • Why doesn't the inner core melt?
    • What does the flow of the slow-moving outer core produce?
    • How far below us is the outer core?
  • Next, restart the video and pause this time at 2:41.
    • How thick is the mantle, and what percentage of the Earth is not the mantle?
    • What rocks compose the mantle, and what is plasticity?
    • Are the lower and upper mantle solid or liquid?
    • What is another term for the upper mantle?
    • How does convection affect fluids?
  • Now, restart the video and pause again at 3:28.
    • How does the asthenosphere affect the lithosphere?
    • What are tectonic plates and why do they move?
    • What three things are created by tectonic plates running into each other?
  • Next, restart the video and pause for the final time at 4:43.
    • How is the continental crust situated in relation to the ocean crust?
    • How thick is the crust relative to the mantle and the core?
  • Lastly, restart the video and view the section 'Lesson Summary.'
  • Recap the entire video lesson, answer any pertinent questions, and have your students take the lesson quiz to demonstrate understanding.


Part A - Discussion

Questions to ask your students could include:

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