Teaching Earth Science with Children's Literature: Our Patchwork Planet

our patchwork planet

“No one knows for sure what the future will hold, but we do know that tectonic plates will continue to influence us, along with every other creature.”

Our Patchwork Planet, by Helen Roney Sattler, is an oversize book that reads as a 5th grade text-book  on tectonic plates and the Earth’s layers. The first few chapters feature many different world maps that illustrate the plates and their movement,  as well as diagrams of the Earth’s layers. The authors follow these with chapters on continent formation, earthquakes and volcanoes, and ends with a look into the future of Earth’s formation.

Curriculum Connections
The book would be a good resource for covering concepts and vocabulary dealing with tectonic plates, earthquakes and volcanoes, and the basic structure of the earth’s interior (5.7c,d).  The vocabulary the students need to know (lithosphere, slip fault) is presented in the text and visually, while the non-buzzword word choice is not too challenging, making the book something a teacher could read aloud to 4th graders.

Additional Resources

  •  This BBC video on YouTube is called How Volcanoes Form but is actually a great 4 1/2 minute video on tectonic plates as well
  • This National Geographic video on YouTube, Earthquake Destruction, begins with some harrowing footage of earthquakes.  From there it explains earthquakes and their connection to tectonic plates.
  • Brainpop has a page on Plate Tectonics that is funny and informative.  You do need an account to view it however.

Book Details
Book: Our Patchwork Planet
Author: Helen Roney Sattler
Illustration: Giulio Maestro
Publication: National Geographic
Pages: 48
Grade Range: 4-6
ISBN: 978-0688093129