Layers of the Earth: Student-built model

By Laura Hospitál on Jul 26, 2015

This simple activity was designed to teach a student who is deafblind about the layers of the Earth.  It allows for active learning, as the student builds the model herself. 


The APH Textured paper is used to represent the layers of the Earth.

Draw hot glue circles on different textured paper with diameters as follows.

  • Crust  - 8"
  • Mantle - 7.5" (This actually makes the crust too wide but allows the student to place the mantle on the crust in the center.)
  • Outer core - 4.5" 
  • Inner Core - 1.6"



After initial instruction on the layers of the Earth and the composition of each layer,  the following model will support the student's understanding of the content.

  1. Give student the layers of the Earth one at a time beginning with the crust.  Guide the student to cut out the circles using the hot glue gun line as a guide.  Read the blog from APH for more information on teaching a visually impaired student to use scissors.
  2. As the student cuts out each layer of the Earth, review the composition of the layer and discuss the lesson taught prior to this activity.  If beneficial for the student, have him refer to the text or raised lines of the layers of the Earth. 
  3. After cutting out each layer, glue the layer to the model (See picture
  4. Proceed until the entire model is built.  Depending on the student, this may take more than one day.
  5. After building the model, have students make labels in braille or large print.  If braille labels are needed, use braille label paper from APH. 
  6. After completing the model, review layers of the Earth using the entire model and other instructional materials from the unit.
  7. When assessment of the content is planned, it may be helpful to use the model as part of  assessment. 


Material or other textured surfaces besides the APH kit may be utilized.

NGSS Standards:

5 - Earth's Systems
ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems
  • Earth’s major systems are the geosphere (solid and molten rock, soil, and sediments), the hydrosphere (water and ice), the atmosphere (air), and the biosphere (living things, including humans). These systems interact in multiple ways to affect Earth’s surface materials and processes. The ocean supports a variety of ecosystems and organisms, shapes landforms, and influences climate. Winds and clouds in the atmosphere interact with the landforms to determine patterns of weather. (5-ESS2-1)

earth layers collage

Read more about: Earth & Space Science, Science, STEM