Help your little ones see how mountains are formed with this hands on experiment. It’s fun and uses stuff you probably already have.
Why Teach About Mountains
Different landforms are all around us. Teaching your little one about landforms show them the beautiful diversity of the land that is all around and she is more likely to want to preserve it.
Mountains cause the weather to change, you can climb them, and of course, they are an inspiration for artwork. They can slow down a thunderstorm or cause a rain cloud to let down the rain.
Mountains come in all different shapes and sizes. If you are looking for more activities to teach about mountains, check out our Homeschooling Preschool Curriculum Week 40 which is all about mountains.
How Mountains are Made
The Earth is made up of rocks, soil, and all of the land (even the land under water). We call this the Earth’s crust. The Earth’s crust is crispy and crunchy, just like pizza crust! It is broken up into different pieces called tectonic plates that fit together like a puzzle. These plates of the Earth’s crust are always slowly moving.
Under the tectonic plates is magma (lava). The lava makes it slippery so that the tectonic plates can slide across it easily.
When two tectonic plates move towards each other they met up. They have nowhere to go so they continue to push and go onto each other. This makes the tectonic plates start to break apart and pieces of the plates that broke off start to pile up.
The more the plates are pushed together, the more pieces that are broken off. This makes a bigger mountain! Because the plates are so big, they don’t just make one mountain but a group of mountains is made! A group of mountains is called a mountain range.
Mountains take a LONG TIME to be created. The tectonic plates move at most up to four INCHES a year. Many plates move much slower than that!
Have your little one see how mountains are formed in the mountain graham cracker experiment below!
Items Needed for Mountain Experiment
- graham crackers
- plate or parchment paper
- bowl of water
- food coloring (optional– red or orange)
The graham crackers are the Earth’s tectonic plates and the frosting is the lava that is found under the Earth’s crust. You can color the frosting red or orange to make it look like lava.
How to do the Mountain Graham Cracker Experiment
- Put two large scoops of frosting next to each other on the plate (or parchment paper).
- Dip the long edge of the graham cracker into the bowl of water for about 5 seconds. The graham cracker should to start to soften (just like how the Earth’s plates are crumbly from erosion and weathering).
- Place the graham cracker on the frosting with the wet edge facing the middle.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 with a second graham cracker. Be sure to leave some space (about an inch) between the graham crackers so your preschooler can experience the plates sliding.
- Have your preschooler slowly push the graham crackers together. Even when the graham crackers touch, keep pushing!
- See how big the mountain gets when the graham crackers are pushed together more and more. Encourage your preschooler see how big they can get their mountain.
Mountain Graham Cracker Experiment
This mountain graham cracker experience is a great hands-on activity to help your little one to see how mountains are formed. They may even want to snack on it afterward!