Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

*Click to open and customize your own copy of the Plate Tectonics Lesson Plan.

This lesson accompanies the BrainPOP topic Plate Tectonics, and supports the standard of analyzing how geoscience processes change Earth’s surface. Students demonstrate understanding through a variety of projects.

Step 1: ACTIVATE PRIOR KNOWLEDGE

Display an image of Pangea, like this one:

Ask students:

  • What do you notice about the continents?
  • How do you think the shape and position of continents changed over time?

Step 2: BUILD KNOWLEDGE

  • Read the description on the Plate Tectonics topic page.
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding. 
  • Assign Related Reading. Have students read one of the following articles: “Real Life” or “Way Back When”. Partner them with someone who read a different article to share what they learned with each other.

Step 3: APPLY and ASSESS 

Assign the Plate Tectonics Challenge and Quiz, prompting students to apply essential literacy skills while demonstrating what they learned about this topic.

Step 4: DEEPEN and EXTEND

Students express what they learned about plate tectonics while practicing essential literacy skills with one or more of the following activities. Differentiate by assigning ones that meet individual student needs.  

  • Make-a-Movie: Create a documentary that answers this question: How has continental drift led to the shapes and positions of modern continents?
  • Make-a-Map: Make a concept map explaining the role of plate tectonics in the following geologic events: earthquakes, continent formation, volcanic eruption, seafloor spreading, and mountain formation. 
  • Creative Coding: Code a digital museum exhibit representing important scientists, discoveries, and geologic events relating to plate tectonics.

More to Explore

Time Zone X: Plate Tectonics: This interactive timeline game challenges players to put historical events in chronological order.

Earth System Unit: Continue to build understanding around Earth’s systems with more BrainPOP topics.

Teacher Support Resources:

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