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Journey to the Center of the Earth was originally published in French (Voyage au centre de la Terre) in 1864 by Jules Verne. This adventure begins when German Professor of Geology Otto Lidenbrock (known as Professor Von Hardwigg in some English translations) discovers an ancient manuscript which describes a passageway to the center of the Earth.
Lidenbrock immediately sets out for Iceland to begin his expedition, taking with him his young nephew Axel (also known as Alex or Harry in some English translations) and their Icelandic guide, Hans. After descending into an extinct volcano in Iceland, the men spend several months in an underground world where they encounter many strange phenomena and dangerous situations before they are forced to the surface during a volcanic eruption on Stromboli Island, off the coast of Italy.
When our book club read Journey to the Center of the Earth we decided to spend a little time learning more about the layers of the Earth by doing some online research and creating a couple of different models.
Modeling the Layers of the Earth
This activity will allow students to explore, first-hand, the layers of the earth.
Begin by reviewing a few vocabulary terms:
- crust – Outermost layer of rock on the earth; the portion of the earth we are most familiar with
- mantle – The layer of the earth located below the crust
- outer core – The layer of earth between the mantle and the inner core
- inner core – Solid, inner most portion of the earth
- Modeling clay/Playdough in 4 different colors (ex., red, yellow, green, blue)
- Knife (plastic or safe table knife)
1. Roll a small, blue piece of clay into a ball (inner core). *Note – with our older kids we used a marble for the inner core.
2. Roll a yellow piece of clay (outer core) into a ball that is larger than the blue ball. Press it on a flat surface to create a disc. Fold the disc around the blue ball and roll between your hands until the clay is smooth and even around the red ball.
3. Roll a red piece of clay (mantle) into a ball that is larger than the yellow ball. Press it on a flat surface to create a disc. Fold the disc around the yellow ball and roll between your hands until the clay is a smooth and even ball.
4. Roll a green piece of clay (crust) into a ball that is larger than the red ball. Press it on a flat surface to create a disc. Fold the disc around the red ball and roll between your hands until the clay forms a smooth and even ball.
5. Next “dissect” the model by cutting down the center of the model with a knife. You will now have a visual representation of the layers when you open up the dissected model!
Earth Research and an Edible Model
One of our favorite websites for learning about the earth is the American Museum of Natural History.
Within this site you can:
- Learn about the Earth’s tectonic plates
- “Meet” six different rocks
- Test your knowledge about planet Earth
AND find directions to make an Edible Earth (this was our favorite model to make!) using marshmallow treats.
For even more learning activities, including a book study, timeline, recipes, writing project, and more, check out our World Study Guide (lapbook/unit study) for A Journey to the Center of the Earth!