Discover! Simulations

Looking at Earth

1. Get Set to Explore


  • material: Something that makes up something else.
  • river: A stream of water that flows into a lake or the ocean.
  • soil: The loose top layer of the earth; soil is made of bits of many different things, including rock and plant and animal parts.

Building Background

  • Explain that the word earth has two different meanings. When it starts with a capital letter E, it refers to our planet. You may wish to show children a globe; guide them to understand that the globe shows what Earth looks like. When the word earth starts with a small letter e, it generally refers to land or to the soil. Define soil for children. Explain that in this Science Unit, when they hear the word Earth, they should take it to mean the planet.
  • Define the word material. Ask children to name different kinds of materials. Guide them to understand that solids, air, and water are also materials.
  • Pass around a globe for children to look at. Ask children to note some materials that make up some of the different features of Earth. List their ideas on the board, and keep the list up so that you can refer to it after children complete the simulation.
  • Present the Discover! question: What materials make up our Earth? Let children add to the list on the board, if they wish.

2. Guide the Exploration

  • Have children launch the Discover! Simulation and listen closely to the question and the directions.
  • Make sure that children understand that they need to click the buttons in the picture to learn more about the materials that make up our Earth. If necessary, demonstrate how to click one of the buttons. After they click each button, children should listen carefully to the information about Earth and about the materials.
  • Tell children to make sure that they click all six buttons in the picture.
  • When children have finished clicking all the buttons, return to the Discover! question and to the list children made before launching the simulation. Let children add to or revise the list, based on what they learned from clicking the buttons.

3. Review/Assess

  • Read the first sentence of Step 3's Wrap-Up text to the class: Earth is made of rock, soil, water and air. Elicit where these materials are found in the picture. Then, review the rest of the Wrap-up text. Give children a chance to ask any questions that they have and help clarify concepts for them.
  • To reinforce learning, you can show children the globe again. Ask them to point to features made mainly of soil (most landmasses, especially plains); have them identify features made mainly of rock (mountains are a good example); let them point to a variety of features made of water (the oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, marshes, and so forth). Explain that air makes a thin layer all around the planet.
  • Direct children to look out the window. Then, pose the Extension question: What materials do you see? Guide children to note examples of soil, air, water, and rock. If necessary, show children pictures where they can pick out each of these materials.

If time permits, present children with the following questions:

  • Inquiry Skill: Ask Questions Think about the different materials you have learned about, and think about different places on Earth that you know. What questions do you have about the features of our Earth and the materials that make them up? Answer: Children might wonder about different kinds of rocks, different kinds of water, different kinds of soil, and what makes up the air. Encourage each child to formulate two or three questions. Let children share their questions. Through class discussion, encourage children to think of ways they might find answers to some of these questions.
  • Critical Thinking: Evaluate Clouds are made up of millions of very tiny drops of water. These tiny drops bunch together to form a cloud. What experience do you have that tells you that clouds are made of water? Answer: Rain, which is made of water, falls from clouds.

4. Reaching All Learners

English Language Learners

Find pictures of the home countries of your English Language Learners. You might ask these children to bring in their pictures of the country. Talk with English Language Learners about different materials they can find in the pictures. Make sure the children understand what rock, soil, and water are. Once you are sure children can correctly identify the different materials in the pictures and can pronounce the words clearly, let them share the pictures with one or two other children. Ask English Language Learners to point out different materials in the pictures. Encourage other children to ask questions or to point out different materials that they notice in these pictures.