Blanket of Air – Background

The Earth’s atmosphere, the layer of air that surrounds the planet, is a protective blanket that shields us from harmful radiation and traps heat energy, storing warmth from the sun and keeping temperatures in a range that makes life possible. Animals need air to breathe, plants need it for photosynthesis, and living things also use air to fly, carry scents and sounds, and keep warm. With its many functions in our lives, it’s worthwhile exploring the nature of air.

Held in place by Earth’s gravity, the atmosphere is an envelope of air that extends outward from the surface for some 500 miles, becoming thinner and sparser with distance. Dry air is composed primarily of three gases, with nitrogen making up Continue reading Blanket of Air – Background

Blanket of Air – Activities

FOCUS: The air we breathe is part of the Earth’s atmosphere, a layer of gases that surrounds the planet, protecting us from harmful radiation and keeping us warm. Although air is invisible, we’ll discover that it takes up space, exerts pressure and has weight, can be heated, cooled, and compressed, and always seeks to equalize its pressure. It is important to understand our atmosphere, because without air, animals and plants could not survive.

Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about air.

Give each small group of children an empty bag, and ask, “What’s in the bag?” Now ask children to twist the neck of the bag shut with a twist-tie, and have them feel it again. Is the bag really empty?

Materials: Plastic bag and twist tie, one for each group.

PUPPET SHOW “Half Full or Half Empty?”
Objective: To learn how air is important to living things.

Perform the puppet show, or have a group of children perform it for the class. Afterward, ask questions to review the key details and vocabulary in the story. Why is air needed by animals? (For energy.) By plants? (To make leaves, stems, etc.) Holding up each puppet, review how each one gets air. What is the part of air that people and animals especially need to breathe? (Oxygen.)

Materials: puppets, script, stage, props.

STATIONS: The following activities are best done in small groups and could be set up in stations: Paper Flip, Air Trap, Pump Action, Rise and Fall, and Diving Dropper. Continue reading Blanket of Air – Activities

Blanket of Air – Puppet Show

Half Full or Half Empty?


Characters: Freddy Frog, Teddy Toad, Wilma Worm, Frieda Fish, Water Lily, Davy Dragonfly

Props:  Two tea cups attached to stage, one on stick so it can tip.


Freddy Frog  Look, Teddy Toad. My cup is half full.

Teddy Toad  My cup is half empty.  I always get less. Continue reading Blanket of Air – Puppet Show

Blanket of Air – Standards


The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Blanket of Air – Standards