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Teaching About the Layers of the Atmosphere

I don’t know about you, but summer season allures me to spend more time outside. With that, naturally, wonderings about the universe and my surroundings follow. The Montessori teacher in me (which drives my parenting style,) articulates those wonderings aloud in hopes that my children will also feel inspired to learn more about their surroundings. Once inspired, I want supporting materials and books for my children to explore. This summer, I decided to be a little more prepared; is that possible?

This week, I decided to prepare a material ahead of time in case our late afternoon outdoor play sparks the question, “What are the layers of the atmosphere?” I created some simple traditional 3-part Montessori cards for my sixth grade daughter. I also wanted something simpler that my youngest daughter could do. However, I didn’t want to go crazy doing things and spending too much time and money making these materials. Let me share with you what I made, frugally.

Step 1: Find Materials

Find around your house, 6 different pieces of construction paper. If you don’t have any, simply use white paper. Then, find six different sized round plates (or round objects) that you can use to trace circles.

If you are pressed on time or don’t have enough circles to trace, download the FREE ChillaxScience file.

Step 2: Cut out Circles

This step is as simple as it sounds. Simply, cut out the circles and you are set. You need to cut out 6 circles (each a different diameter.)

Step 3: Label Circles

Once you have your circles, go ahead and label them. The Earth’s atmosphere is divided into 5 main layers: troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere. The exosphere is the outer most layer. Scientists have been able to determine with great detail the physical and chemical characteristics of each layer and we can link other fun science learnings (e.g., clouds) to Earth’s atmospheric layers. Don’t forget that your 6th circle represents the Earth.

Step 4: Play with the Cards

Since the cards are simple, I used the tried but true old scavenger hunt method to make it fun for my girls. I wrote on the back of each circle a location word within the house. Then, I gave the girls an initial paper with a location to find the first layer of the atmosphere. They were hooked! You get the idea of scavenger hunt, right? Remember, this is how I did it, find what works for your family.

Step 5: Read, Read, and Read Some More

I always like to ground all of our activities with some books. So here are two of my favorite books (Amazon Affiliate) about this cool science topic!

Try this activity at home and let us know how your family did it and the questions your children asked!

Published by Reizelie Barreto, PhD

Reizelie is a former homeschool parent and a trained science and Montessori teacher with a passion for curriculum development. She loves learning and teaching and on her spare time she helps families create home environments that enrich a child's learning. Reizelie has a PhD in science education and has been working in the field of education for the last 19 years. She loves helping teachers, schools, and homeschooling families improve their science curriculum in ways that are authentic to scientists' work.

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