Lunar and Planetary Institute

Discover Earth - Activities
EXPLORE! Discover Earth


Through hands-on investigations and discussions, young audiences discover that Earth's global environment changes — and is changed by — the local environment. The activities explore three key messages relating to this overall theme: A. We belong to Earth; B. Each region is unique; and C. Your home is changing.

A. We Belong to Earth
We belong to a complex system of interacting water, ice, air, and life.

Community Activities
The community contributes to two exhibits: In Century of Change Display, the community gathers and compares photos and/or illustrations of the local areas taken a century and more ago with more contemporary photos of the same areas. In Weather Wall, children track the local weather over a period of two months or more, plotting weather data on a kid-friendly sticker chart.

Activity 1: A Century of Change Display
     How-to Video:  A Century of Change

Activity 2: Weather Wall

     How-to Video:  Weather Wall

Icebreaker Activities
Children ages 5 and up are introduced to Earth's major characteristics (or parts or systems) — water, ice, air, and life — through the brief icebreaker activities Catch!...the World's Ocean, Ice-y Experience, Share the Air, and Web of Life. 

Activity 3: Icebreaker Activities
     How-to Video:  Icebreaker Activities

Discover Earth through Reading
I Belong to Earth can serve either as part of a kick-off celebration or as an outreach program to area schools. Children and teens discover Earth science questions and answers using the library's resources and participate in reading games — customized for ages 5 to 9, 10 to 13, and teens — that combine book lists and reading logs into take-home adventures!  After this activity, the reading games continue to connect patrons with the Discover Earth activities and resources. Participants advance by reading, engaging in suggested at-home activities, attending Discover Earth library programs, or investigating Earth and the environment through a variety of citizen science programs. Completed game boards may be submitted to the library for display, and if desired, entry into promotional drawings. Participants earn a decal upon completion.

Activity 4: I Belong to Earth
     How-to Video:  Overview of reading game materials for ages 5–9
     How-to Video:  Overview of reading game materials for ages 10–13 and teens/adult

Materials for conducting a reading program

*Printing instructions for reading game boards:

To ensure that the game boards print properly (with both sides of the board oriented "up"), please try the following printer settings. If you use a professional printer, emphasize that the game boards are to be double-sided with "up" along the same long edge.

  • Landscape
  • 11 x 17 paper
  • Double-sided

B. Each Region Is Unique
Changes to distant oceans, air moving freely around our globe, and all living things have an influence on our regional environment, now and in the past and future.

Weather Explorations
Children ages 5 to 7 explore various aspects of weather through a series of stations featuring games, crafts, and weather observations in Weather: The Many Faces of Mother Nature. Children ages 8 to 9 and 10 to 13 undertake more advanced investigations of rain, wind, clouds, and weather instruments and consider how locally collected weather data relate to the broader Earth systems of water, ice, air, and life in Weather Stations.

Activity 5: Weather: The Many Faces of Mother Nature
     How-to Video:  Weather:  The Many Faces of Mother Nature

Activity 6: Weather Stations
     How-to Video:  Weather Stations

Regional Explorations
In Climate Tour, children ages 10 to 13 celebrate their region of the United States by creating a regionally-inspired postcard and recipe. Finally, they use a set of What if… cards about their region to reconsider their postcards and recipes in light of future climate change. In Polar Bears or Penguins?, children ages 10 to 13 use a fast-action matching game to demonstrate how each of Earth's polar regions is distinct and special. 

Activity 7: Celebrate Your Region!
     How-to Videos:  Celebrate Your Region, Part A: Climate Postcard and Part B: Recipe for a Region and Part C: Changes to Come

Activity 8: Polar Bears or Penguins?
     How-to Video:  Polar Bears or Penguins?

C. Your Home Is Changing
Earth's water, ice, air, and life will continue to interact over long-term scales, shaping the particular features of that place we each call home.

Environmental Stewardship
In teams, children ages 11 to 13 build an understanding of how human actions impact global change by playing a board game, Polar Bears Go with the Floes, in which chance and choice determine the fate of a lone polar bear on an ice floe. Teens, ages 14 to 18, engage their communities in science through art in Earth: Artistically Balanced. The teens first interact with a climate scientist to unravel, on a very basic level, the complexities of Earth's climate system, and then they create a three-dimensional artistic representation of Earth's climate. The art may be created on a large scale and displayed at the library or made on a smaller scale to take home.

Activity 9: Polar Bears Go with the Floes
     How-to Video:  Polar Bears Go with the Floes

Activity 10: Earth: Artistically Balanced
     How-to Video:  Earth: Artistically Balanced

How to Use These Activities in Your Programs
You may design your own program of one or more of these flexible activities, or you may choose to build the story of Earth and its changing environment through the complete series of activities! Background information and facilitator resources are provided to help you prepare to lead the activities. Encourage further exploration with the books, websites, and videos listed in the resource section. Programming ideas for all ages, infant to adult, are also provided.

Reading games, geared toward different age levels, support this module and connect the activities and resources. The games combine the traditional reading log and book list into a board game, where participants advance by reading, engaging in suggested at-home activities, attending library programs, or investigating Earth and the environment through a variety of citizen science programs. These games are introduced in Activity 4: I Belong to Earth. The game boards may be customized with your institutions' address, and if desired, an additional step in the instructions for winning prizes. Matching decals may be printed and awarded as prizes. Read Me bookmarks are available as a way for children to read, review, and recommend titles to others.


Last updated
October 8, 2013