Tectonic Plate Boundaries Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Teachers may use this lesson plan to teach students about tectonic plate boundaries. Students will learn vocabulary related to plate tectonic theory and create models that demonstrate plate movement.

Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe the theory of plate tectonics using content-specific vocabulary
  • Compare the ways tectonic plates move in relationship to each other


60 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • NGSS.HS-ESS1-5

Evaluate evidence of the past and current movements of continental and oceanic crust and the theory of plate tectonics to explain the ages of crustal rocks.


  • continental crust
  • convergent boundary
  • divergent boundary
  • fault
  • magma
  • mantle
  • oceanic crust
  • tectonic plates
  • transform boundary


  • Oranges
  • Toothpicks
  • Clay
  • Fun-size candy bars with caramel
  • Plastic knives
  • Paper towels

Video & Discussion

  • Introduce the video: Plate Boundaries: Convergent, Divergent, and Transform Boundaries.
  • Watch the 'Introduction to Plate Boundaries' portion of the video. Pause at 2:17 to discuss the following:
    • What are tectonic plates?
    • Describe the theory of tectonic plates.
    • Describe how convection currents contribute to plate movement.
    • What is a fault?
  • Watch the 'Divergent Boundary' portion of the video to 3:26. Pause to discuss the following:
    • What is a divergent boundary?
    • What happens at divergent boundaries?
  • Watch the 'Convergent Boundary' portion of the video to 6:03. Pause the video to ask the following questions:
    • What is a convergent boundary?
    • What happens at a convergent boundary?
  • Watch the remainder of the video. Discuss these questions:
    • What is a transform boundary?
    • What happens at a transform boundary?
  • Pass out the printable worksheet.
  • Have students complete the worksheet independently to check for understanding. Grade as a class and discuss answers.

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