Monday, 25 September 2023

The opening of the Atlantic Ocean

'Continental split – the opening of the Atlantic Ocean; modelling how the continents moved, from Pangaea to today'.

Video clip

This ELI is a scissors and paper activity modelling the relative positions and movements of the continents as the ocean floor spreads either side of an oceanic ridge.

Many related Earthlearningideas can be found in our Plate tectonics category.

Monday, 18 September 2023

Make your own scary scorpion and imagine how it lived

New ELI -  'Scary scorpions; make your own scorpion and imagine how it lived'.

This ELI gives an introduction to fossil aquatic scorpions; bringing the animal back to life and investigating the Silurian seas. You can also have fun making your own scary scorpion.

Related activities can be found in 'Evolution of Life' or, for a younger age group, in 'ELI Early years'.

Monday, 11 September 2023

How to work out the lifestyle of an extinct animal

Continuing our fossils theme - - 'Curious creatures; using fossil and modern evidence to work out the lifestyles of extinct animals'.


Life on Earth diversified around 500 million years ago when shells and skeletons appeared for the first time in the fossil record. All animal life today probably evolved from some of these creatures while others became extinct.

Many related activities can be found in our 'Evolution of Life' category.


Monday, 4 September 2023

Draw and describe the fossil - can you name it?

The new ELI today is another in our 'picturing' series - 'Picturing Fossils -1: visualise and draw fossils from a verbal description'.

This activity enhances pupils’ skills of description and interpretation using photographs of fossils.
Many related activities can be found in our 'Fossils' Evolution of Life category.

Monday, 28 August 2023

The story of a sand grain

'A world in a grain of sand’ - what can a grain of sand tell us about its past?

Watch the teaching video

This ELI is a ‘thought experiment’ on erosion, transportation and deposition.

For younger ages, it could be used to write a story or draw a cartoon about the life of
Sandy Grain. Start with a grain of sand on a beach, and describe where it has come from and what will happen to it.

Related activities can be found in 'Sedimentary processes' and 'ELI Early years'.

Monday, 21 August 2023

Graphite, an essential mineral for the Green Revolution

We are continuing our latest series with 'Essential Minerals for the Green Revolution – 4 Graphite: from a pencil to the electric car!'

This ELI is an investigation into the sources of graphite as worldwide demand rises, with the introduction of new technology for motor vehicles, such as lithium-ion batteries. Worldwide demand for graphite and related elements is rising rapidly as new technologies are embraced.

Other related activities in our 'Essential minerals' series can be found in the ELI Minerals category.


Monday, 14 August 2023

Evidence for the Earth's core

Today's ELI is 'A core activity; piecing together evidence for the composition of the Earth’s core'.

This Earthlearningidea asks pupils to examine and discuss the evidence for the composition of the Earth’s core.

Related ideas can be found in our Earth Materials category in 'Structure of the Earth'.

Monday, 7 August 2023

The effect of the Earth's core on earthquake waves

The new ELI today is 'Shadowlands; simulating the effect of the Earth’s core on earthquake waves'.

This is a simulation exercise to demonstrate that the shadow zones created by earthquake waves are affected by the size and physical properties of the Earth’s liquid outer core.

Other related activities can be found in two categories: 'Structure of the Earth' and 'Earthquakes'.

Monday, 31 July 2023

Boring chocolate? A new look at boreholes

Today, we continue our edible theme with 'Boring chocolate! What can boreholes tell us about the Earth?'.

This activity can be used in any science or geography lesson about ļ¬nding what is beneath the Earth’s surface, including the search for natural resources and understanding past environments.

You can find related activities in our Earth Materials, Earth's structure category.


Monday, 24 July 2023

Use puff pastry and chocolate to make delicious folds and faults

The new ELI today is 'Folds and faults with puff pastry and chocolate; understanding folds and faults in cross section and on a geological map'.

This activity models the formation of folds and then of faults using the Catalonian pre-Pyrenees as an example in the real world.

It's in the ELI category of Deformation - folding and faulting where you can find a wide selection of related activities.

Monday, 17 July 2023

Catastrophic processes - dramatic geological events

Let's consider 'What catastrophic natural processes affected your region in the geological past? Use the evidence in your local region to interpret dramatic geological events'.

In this Earthlearningidea, several photographs are used to stimulate discussion about possible rapid geological processes in the past which might have had “catastrophic” outcomes if there had been humans on the Earth at those times.

Explore the category 'Natural Hazards' for many other activities about catastrophic processes.

Monday, 10 July 2023

Rare Earth elements - essential minerals in modern technology

Today we are continuing our series with 'Essential Minerals for the Green Revolution – 3 Rare Earth Elements; vital components in modern technology'.

This Earthlearningidea could be used in a lesson on the need to identify and exploit rare earth minerals in vital applications in many different fields, ranging from optics to energy saving devices and medical equipment. Rare earth elements are particularly important as catalysts in industrial processes and in the manufacture of strong magnets.

Other ELIs in this series 'Essential minerals for the Green Revolution' can be seen in the Minerals category on the website.

Monday, 3 July 2023

Minerals formed by hydrothermal fluids

Continuing our minerals theme . . . "Interactive hydrothermal mineralisation:‘The rock with the hole’ hydrothermal mineralisation demo".


This ELI is a demonstration of how hydrothermal fluids flow through rocks. It is presented in a way to interact with pupils.

Click here to find more Earthlearningideas related to igneous processes.

Monday, 26 June 2023

The demand for copper is increasing rapidly

Today, we are continuing our theme of 'Essential Minerals for the Green Revolution with Copper: an element for which the demand is increasing rapidly'.

This ELI involves an investigation into the need to increase mining for copper as demand rises abruptly and ores of lean (low) grade have to be used. 

Click here for other Earthlearningideas about minerals.

Monday, 19 June 2023

Classifying things found in the ground incuding rocks, minerals and fossils

An ELI Early years activity: 'Found in the ground: sorted! An introduction to classification using things ‘found in the ground’

 Teaching video to accompany the activity

This activity may be used in any lesson where the principles of classification are required. It forms a useful basis for further activities in Earth science.

In the ELI Early years category, there are many other ideas.

Monday, 12 June 2023

Monday, 5 June 2023

How to distinguish different landscapes - granite, chalk, sandstone and limestone

 New teaching videos to accompany two popular Earthlearningideas:

'Geological postcards 1 – granite and chalk'' and 

'Geological postcards 2 – sandstone and limestone
Picture postcard puzzles'

These ELIs use ‘postcards’ of landscape features as clues to the nature of the underlying rocks.

Many, many activities about rocks can be found in our Earth Materials category - just search for 'Rocks' in 'Topics'.

Monday, 29 May 2023

New ELI today is 'Make your own aquifer – 2 The London Basin; model the aquifers in the London Basin with sponges'. 

Watch a video of the activity

This activity uses sponges to demonstrate water in pore spaces in sedimentary rocks. It may be used in science and geography lessons when studying the water cycle or water management.

Click here to find other watery Earthlearningideas.

Monday, 22 May 2023

Keeping our watery theme, have you tried - - 'Well, well, well! Making a working model of a well'?

Choose one version of the model to make, depending on the time and equipment available, and use it to demonstrate how water percolates through the spaces between the grains of a sediment or rock to accumulate at the bottom of a well.

Click here for other watery Earthlearningideas.

Monday, 15 May 2023

Make your own aquifer using sponges instead of rocks

New ELI today 'Make your own aquifer – 1 with sponges; a clean way to demonstrate water in pores in rocks'.

Teaching video

This Earthlearningidea uses sponges to demonstrate water in pore spaces in sedimentary rocks. It may be used in science and geography lessons when studying the water cycle or water management.

In the category Earth as a system, Water cycle, there are many related activities.

Monday, 8 May 2023

ELI Early years - matching objects with similar properties

One of the activities in our ELI Early years series is fun to do outside in the playground, 'Sensory treasure hunt; using senses to match objects with similar properties'.

Watch the Video

This activity has endless potential and can be used in many ways. It is best carried out outside where there is plenty of space but can equally well be enjoyed in the classroom. Pupils can work at their own pace with the faster and more able investigating uses and other properties such as the object’s ability or not to change shape. The words fulfil many literacy requirements and pupils can try to apply them to other objects.

Our ELI Early years category has many ideas for young children.

Monday, 1 May 2023

Essential minerals for the Green Revolution

The new ELI today is the start of a series of Earthlearningideas about the essential minerals needed for the Green Revolution. We begin with Lithium. 'Essential Minerals for the Green Revolution – 1 Lithium; an element which is pulling more than its weight in the world'.

This activity is an investigation into the sources of lithium as worldwide demand rises, with the introduction of new technology, such as lithium-ion batteries.

Our Minerals category has many more activities about minerals and over the next few months more ELIs about essential minerals will be published.

Monday, 24 April 2023

Geohazard - sink holes

Continuing our geohazards theme - 'Sink hole! Demonstrate sink hole processes in action'


Video (Catalan language)

Sink holes commonly form over limestone bedrock, but also develop where the underlying materials are even more soluble, such as rock salt and gypsum deposits. This classroom activity models the dissolving of underground materials and the impacts this can have at the surface.

Our Natural Hazards category lists many more Earthlearningideas.

Monday, 17 April 2023

Forecast earthquakes by monitoring movement on faults

The new ELI today is 'Slip-sliding away; how does monitoring fault creep help to forecast earthquakes?'

This earthlearningidea is a simulation and case study of a monitoring survey used to monitor the slow creep along fault planes that leads to the build-up of strain prior to its release in an earthquake.

Go to our Natural hazards category to find other activities about earthquakes.

Monday, 10 April 2023

How you can use density to separate different materials

Video: - ' Jigging; using density to separate different materials'.

This is a simple practical activity used to separate minerals of different density from each other. It is a small scale version of a method which was used for centuries.

More Earthlearningideas about Minerals can be found here.

Monday, 3 April 2023

Explaining crystal size in igneous and metamorphic rocks

The new ELI today is 'Building silicates; simulating crystal size during the cooling of magma and during recrystallisation in solid rock'.


This Earthlearningidea is a consolidation exercise to show how cooling/recrystallisation rates might explain crystal size in igneous and metamorphic rocks.

Related activities can be found in the categories 'Igneous processes' and 'Metamorphic processes'.

Monday, 27 March 2023

Let's search for gold!

'Gold prospectors; panning for ‘gold’ in river sediment'.


This ELI investigates how prospectors use the property of density to search for gold in river sediments.The technique is still actively used across the world where minerals are exploited, on a wide range of scales.

The activity is aimed at ages 5 and upwards but if you are searching for science ideas for younger children, you could explore 'ELI Early years'.

Monday, 20 March 2023

More mineral identification

The new ELI today is the second in our Picturing minerals activity, 'Picturing Minerals -2; visualise and draw minerals from a verbal description'.

This could form a useful revision activity, once pupils have studied minerals. Pupils are required to describe what they see accurately so their partner can draw and, hopefully, identify the mineral. It is not always very easy!

Click here for many more ELIs about Minerals.

Monday, 13 March 2023

Modelling plate margins with a Mars (TM) Bar – apart, together and side by side

Have you tried 'Mars (TM) margins – diverged, converged and transformed; modelling plate margins with a Mars (TM) Bar – apart, together and side by side'?

This is a popular activity with pupils for obvious reasons! It demonstrates the three types of plate margins, their stress fields and characteristics.

Lots more ELIs related to plate tectonics can be found here.

Monday, 6 March 2023

Know your minerals

The new ELI today is another in our popular 'picturing' series: 'Picturing Minerals-1; visualise and draw minerals from a verbal description'.


This activity enhances pupils’ skills of description and interpretation using photographs of minerals. It could form a useful revision activity - and it is fun!

More ELIs about Minerals can be found in the Earth Materials category.

Monday, 27 February 2023

'A rock is a time capsule - a message from the past: bringing to life the extraordinary stories of ordinary rocks'


When we see a rock as a bundle of evidence of how the Earth used to be, we can begin to look for the clues that tell us about its past history, and the past history of the planet. Rocks are natural time capsules. By using the ‘time capsule’ approach you can bring a rock to life in ways that will amaze pupils and adults alike.

The ELI category 'Visualising deep time' has related activities and activities about rocks generally can be found here.

Monday, 20 February 2023

What sedimentary rocks can tell us about sea level change

The new ELI today is part 2 of 'Walther’s law of sedimentation – teaching it the Lego TM way: How does a relative fall in sea level affect a vertical sequence of sediments?'

This ELI is a hands-on demonstration of a key principle in sedimentology and stratigraphy, to show how a relative fall in sea level can result in the development of a ‘coarsening-upwards’ sequence.

Click here for other ELIs about stratigraphy and the sequencing of events.

Monday, 6 February 2023

What makes up soil?

The new ELI today is 'The soil water shake test; investigate the components of soil'. 

There is a teaching video to accompany this activity.

This activity can be carried out as a teacher demonstration or as a group activity. It shows how the components of soil may be separated and studied. Various soil types can be compared.

In the Soil section of Earth Materials, you can find many more activities about soils.

Monday, 30 January 2023

Melting ice and sea level rise

Two new videos to explain melting ice and sea level rise - -

Melting ice and sea level change 1 – sea ice: does sea level change when floating sea ice melts?

Melting ice and sea level change 2 – ice caps: does sea level change when ice caps melt?


The first video investigates the impact on sea level when floating ice melts and the second video investigates the impact when ice caps melt.

Other Earthlearningideas about sea level change can be found by putting 'sea level' into the search engine or looking in the alphabetical index.

Monday, 23 January 2023

Why do coastlines and cliffs vary so much in appearance?

The new ELI today is 'Coastal erosion; what controls the form of a coastline and the steepness of its cliffs?'

This activity examines how cliff structure and other factors impact cliff retreat and coastal landforms. It lists the main factors involved in coastal erosion and relates photographs of real coastlines to idealised situations. Pupils realise that there may be several explanations for any one cliff form.

There are many related activities in our sedimentary processes category.

Monday, 9 January 2023

Demonstrating oceanic magnetic stripes with several pairs of hands

The new ELI+ today is fun to do - 'Hands on magnetic stripes; demonstrating how oceanic ridge magnetic stripes form with several pair of hands'.

This activity works well as a consolidation activity, particularly following the Earthlearningidea, ‘Magnetic stripes’  which demonstrates how magnetic stripes form using a striped piece of paper with magnetised pins pulled out of a gap between two tables.

Click on Plate tectonics to find many other related Earthlearningideas.

Monday, 2 January 2023