Sphere Interactions

Developed by Shannon McLaughlin​, PCM Play Practicum 2023, Verizon Tech Enhanced 2023
(FOCUS: Grade 5, Earth Science, Invention Literacy, Design Thinking)

Students will explore Earth’s spheres and how they are connected. They will learn about the biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere, and how they work together to support life on Earth. The students will create a terrarium in a plastic bag and create a model of two spheres interacting.

Materials to gather

  • Chromebooks/tablets
  • Plastic zip-lock bags
  • Soil
  • Plants
  • Slideshow of pictures of people (at the beach, in a pool, in the woods, having a picnic, etc.)
  • Water Cycle Go Noodle (for follow up the next day)
  • Poster boards
  • Markers
  • Clay
  • Crayons

Set Up

  • Students are grouped at tables of 4 or 5
  • Tablets should be checked for technology.
  • Stations set up with materials for terrarium and a station for model of spheres.

Student’s Job

How do Earth’s spheres interact with each other?

  1. Ask student’s to recall the Earth’s spheres (Atmosphere, Biosphere, Geosphere, Hydroshere ~ these were taught in previous lesson)
  2. Present Google slide with various photos (i.e.,person swimming in the ocean, a bird flying across the sky, someone shoveling snow, a deer in a forest drinking from a stream). Go through each slide with students asking them to identify how the spheres are interacting.
  3. Explain that we will be doing two activities today. The first will be a model terrarium in a plastic bag andthe second making a model of two spheres interacting.
  4. Introduce the terrarium activity. Discuss how the spheres (plant represents the biosphere, soil represents the geosphere, water represents the hydrosphere and the air in the bag represents the atmosphere).
  5. Have groups build the terrarium (tomorrow we will check on them and talk about the condensation that will be on the bag. We will do water cycle GoNoodle to review the water cycle)
  6. Once terrariums are complete, students will be asked to choose two spheres and build a model of how they interact. They can use paper, crayons, markers, clay. Each group will present their models after 15 minutes of building.
  7. Finally, students will spend some time on google Earth looking at faraway places and writing down any interesting interactions they see between Earth’s spheres.

Further Challenges:

With ELL students, they could be directed to their Native country on Google Earth.


Teacher’s Job

Standards Alignment

RICCSS – Rhode Island Common Core State Standards

5-ESS2-1: Develop a model using an example to describe the way the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.SEP.2 Developing and using models Develop a model using an example to describe a scientific principle.

Prepare/ Background Info

Students should be aware that the Earth has four sphere’s and be familiar with the water cycle.

Effective Facilitation Strategies

Allow students think time and share their thoughts/findings.

Play to Notice (Learning Framework)

Building the terrariums, using materials to create a model and using Google Earth.

Content Matter to Notice

Make sure students are understanding the cause/effect each sphere has on the other.


About Us

Our mission is to inspire lifelong learning for all through play, creativity, and exploration.

Hours and Admissions

Open 7 Days a Week

9:30am to 12:30pm and
1:30pm or 4:30pm

Reservations are available online. Reserve your tickets now, or purchase walk-up tickets when you arrive.

Masks are optional for most activities at PCM.

Group Visits

Providence Children's Museum is the ideal place for school field trips, camp outings, homeschool and community group trips and Scout excursions.

For Families

We’ve collected an extensive resource of creative activities that will engage kids and their caregivers wherever you may be.

About Play

While society often overlooks and undervalues play, we are here to celebrate and elevate it. Because we know play isn’t frivolous. It’s foundational.

PCM Lesson Plans

Check out our library of lesson plans for teachers and families. PCM has created a variety of lesson plans for teachers by teachers for children pre-k through early elementary.

Become a Partner

PCM has brought the magic of learning to life for over 40 years. As a trusted resource for families and children in southern New England, PCM is an anchor in our community.

Become a Partner

PCM has brought the magic of learning to life for over 40 years. As a trusted resource for families and children in southern New England, PCM is an anchor in our community.

More than a Museum
PCM is committed to serving the children of southern New England – regardless of their financial ability. 40% of the Museum’s budget is dedicated to welcoming one-third of the Museum’s total audience free of charge or at greatly reduced rates through a variety of outreach programs.