Resources needed:

  • Variety of building bricks
  • Blocks
  • Carpet tiles
  • Item such as large dice to drop in water
  • Tray or plastic container


  1. Ask the children what an earthquake is and what they know about them. Why do they occur? Where do they occur most often?
  2. Lay two carpet tiles or pieces of carpet next to each other and build a small brick structure along the ‘fault line’. Show the children what happens to the building when there is movement along the fault line.
  3. Remind the children about the meaning of the word ‘epicentre’ and how the most severe shocks happen closest to the epicentre and the further away from that you travel, the less the impact. Fill a shallow tray with water and drop in a heavy item. As the ripples travel away from the impact of the drop, they lessen and that’s the same as the shockwaves created by an earthquake.
  4. Give each pair of children a pair of carpet tiles and some building equipment and ask them to experiment with making structures which can withstand the two ‘plates’ moving against, away from or towards each other. What features did the most successful structures have?


Further Activities:

Make a large flat tray of jelly to show how the earth can move during a quake – place objects on the surface to show the difference between a minor quake (gently wobbling of the tray) to a major quake (lots of wobbling and shaking of the tray. This would be a good opportunity to discover more about the Richter Scale and seismographs.

Watch clips of actual earthquakes with the children and ask them about what they would do if they were caught up in one. Where would be the safest place to be? Why?

Look at maps of the world and identify the relationship between the edges of plates and the frequency of earthquakes in that area. CLICK HERE to see a real time earth quake tracker and shows the time and location (and also the plate lines to reinforce the relationship.


Curriculum Areas covered:

Human and physical geography – describe and understand key aspects of:

  • physical geography, including: climate zones, biomes and vegetation belts, rivers, mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes, and the water cycle

Teaching point: play video clips of real earthquakes happening and discuss with the children how it might feel to be at the epicentre of a powerful quake. What would they do? What are the dangers (gas pipes, falling masonry or even whole buildings and so on).