Lithosphere Lesson Plan

Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Use this lesson plan to introduce students to Earth's lithosphere. Students will watch a video lesson, discuss the lithosphere and Earth's other layers, and use a hands-on model to explore the lithosphere further.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define lithosphere.
  • differentiate between Earth's layers.


60 - 90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.


Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.


  • Hard-boiled eggs (1 per pair or group of students)
  • Butter knives


  • Begin the lesson by writing the term 'lithosphere' on the board. Underline each word part (litho- and -sphere). Ask students if they recognize either word part. What do they mean?
  • Start the video lesson The Lithosphere: Definition & Composition. Pause the video at 0:55 to discuss the following questions as a class:
    • What does lithos- mean? -sphere?
    • What is the lithosphere?
    • How big is the lithosphere?
    • Why is the lithosphere important to us?
  • Resume the video. Pause it again at 3:06 to discuss the following questions:
    • Where is the lithosphere thickest? Thinnest?
    • How is the lithosphere changing over time?
    • What is the asthenosphere? How is it related to the lithosphere?
    • How does the lithosphere relate to plate tectonics?
  • Resume and finish the video. Discuss:
    • What is the oceanic lithosphere made of?
    • What is the continental lithosphere made of?

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