Layers of the Atmosphere Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

This lesson plan utilizes an informative text lesson to explain to students important facts about the layers of the atmosphere. Discussion questions will enhance students' understanding and a hands-on art activity allows the students to create models of the Earth's atmosphere.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • name the layers of Earth's atmosphere
  • explain key features of each of the layers of Earth's atmosphere


1 to 2 hours

Curriculum Standards


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


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.


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


Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.


  • Paper copies of the text lesson Layers of the Atmosphere Lesson for Kids, one for each student
  • A worksheet created using the quiz from the associated text lesson, one for each student
  • Yellow, green, purple, blue and orange modeling clay
  • Paper plates
  • Plastic knives
  • Toothpicks
  • Glue
  • Small pieces of paper to make label flags


  • Begin by asking students to try to guess how many layers Earth's atmosphere has.
  • Give the students time to share their answers with the class as you write the most common answers on the board.
  • Pass out the Layers of the Atmosphere Lesson for Kids text lesson.
  • Instruct the class to take turns reading aloud a few lines each from the introduction, 'The Atmosphere' and 'The Lower Atmosphere' sections of the text lesson.
    • Do we live in the troposphere?
    • How can the range of the troposphere span between 4 - 12 miles?
  • Tell the class to take turns reading aloud from 'The Middle Atmosphere' section of the text lesson now.
    • Why can't we breathe in the stratosphere and the mesosphere?
    • Why does the air in the stratosphere and the mesosphere get hotter as you go higher, while as you go higher in the troposphere, the air gets colder?
  • Now tell the class to take turns reading aloud the remainder of the text lesson.
    • With the addition of the thermosphere and the exosphere, how many layers make up the atmosphere of Earth?
    • How did we do in guessing how many layers exist in Earth's atmosphere?
    • What purpose do the layers of the atmosphere serve?
  • Review key facts from the text lesson with the class now.
  • Pass out the worksheet and have the students work independently to complete.
  • When all students have finished their worksheets, review each question and answer fully with the class, allowing students to correct answer, if needed.

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