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How to Make a Model of Earth’s Layers – Spice Jar Style!


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A couple of weeks ago while at my sister’s house, I noticed a nifty layered spice jar sitting on her window sill. When I asked where she got it, she told me that my niece made it for school – it was a representation of the Earth’s layers.

How to Make a Model of Earth’s Layers – Spice Jar Style!

It was so cool that I asked my niece to tell me how she made it so that I could share it with y’all. I’ve shown you how to make a paper mache Earth and a construction paper model of Earth’s layers. Now, I give you How to Make a Model of Earth’s Layers – Spice Jar Style!

Supplies you’ll need to make an Earth’s layers model

earth layers model ingredients
  • Small, decorative jar (Choosing one with a wide mouth will make the project easier.)
  • Assortment of spices, coffee, and/or decorating sprinkles in a variety of colors (or dye salt or sugar using food coloring) – I used the cheap, $1 spices from Walmart. (Oh, and the coffee was an old, out-of-date bag from the flea market.)
  • Small piece of cardboard to separate the layers
  • Plastic wrap (optional)
  • Image depicting the compositional and mechanical layers of the Earth for reference (There is a good image of Earth’s layers here – just scroll down to the heading “Layers of Earth”)

How to Make an Earth’s Layers Model Spice Jar

Step 1: Cut the piece of cardboard to fit as snugly inside the middle of the jar as possible. The Earth’s layers jar will be split into two sides, one showing the compositional layers and the other showing the mechanical layers.

The cardboard will serve to separate the two sides, so it needs to fit snugly to keep the spices from pouring into the other side. (Ask me how I know. There may or may not have been an onion salt landslide during Take 1.)

Earth layers spice jar

Optional: I wadded up a small piece of plastic wrap to place into the bottom of the jar before placing the cardboard inside. This created a snug fit in the bottom of the jar and was easily concealed by the first layer of spices.

Step 2: Decide which spices will represent which layers and jot down your chart. We used:

Compositional Layers:

  • Crust – seasoning salt
  • Mantle – coffee
  • Core – paprika

Mechanical Layers:

  • Lithosphere – yellow sprinkles
  • Asthenosphere – red sprinkles
  • Mesosphere – seasoned salt
  • Outer core – blue sprinkles
  • Inner core – coffee

And, just for fun, we did a small layer of green sprinkles on the top to represent grass/growing things.

Step 3: Begin layering! We did one layer at a time on each side of the cardboard to try to keep it from getting pushed to one side and possibly causing us to lose the distinction of each layer during the layering process.

Easy model of Earth's layers

We attempted to keep the layers fairly proportional to those in the diagram, but we didn’t get too technical with it. We just eyeballed it.

Optional: Place a bit of wadded up plastic wrap on top of the layers to fill in any remaining space between the spices and the jar lid to prevent shifting. You might also choose to use a Sharpie or dry erase marker to label the layers.

How to Make a Model of Earth’s Layers – Spice Jar Style!

There you have it – a simple, but fun and effective way to represent the layers of the Earth in a colorful spice jar!

This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop and Finishing Strong.

This article was written by Kris Bales–the previous owner of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. 

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