Glaciers on the Move

Glaciers on the Move lesson plan

Alaska is filled with natural wonders. None are more magnificent than glaciers. Discover how these enormous mountains of ice form, move, drop into the ocean, and change the face of the Earth.

  • 1.

    Glaciers are made of fallen snow that, over many years, weighs itself down into a huge mass of ice. Because they are so huge, glaciers flow like very slow rivers. Find out more about glaciers and their effects on the Earth’s surface. Research the impact of global warming. Study pictures and then sculpt a replica of a "river of ice."

  • 2.

    To make a free-form base for your glacier, press out a ball of Crayola Air-Dry Clay on a clean, dry paper plate. Leave the edges rough if you like or smooth them with a dampened finger. To create a flat base, roll out clay with a rolling pin and cut it with a clay tool or plastic knife.

  • 3.

    These are some sculpting ideas to try. Mix and match them to form your own unique glacier. Dampen the surface before you press two pieces of clay together. You could make a gift plaque like the sample. Or make a labeled replica suitable for a science fair display.

  • 4.

    Roll or press and cut slabs of clay to form rugged snow-capped mountains in the background. Form moving glaciers with irregular slabs of clay. Use textured items such as shells or rocks to impress the surface. You could even embed small pebbles in the glacier for a realistic look.

  • 5.

    Use modeling tools to create a ripple effect on the ocean in the foreground. Add bits of clay to show the glacier calving into the water. If your glacier is for a science fair display, you may want to embed toothpicks to attach paper labels to identify th

  • 6.

    To make a plaque, roll coils and twist them to create a border if you like. Cut out letters or use coils of clay to create words such as Alaska, which is where most glaciers are found. While the clay is wet, use a large paper clip to poke two holes in the

  • 7.

    Paint your glacier when it is still wet with Washable Watercolors. Fill a brush with paint and gently wash the color on the clay. Air-dry the glacier for at least 3 days.

  • 8.

    If you made a plaque, thread heavy cord or ribbon through the holes to tie and hang. Use your replica to help other students understand the impact of global warming.


  • Students learn how glaciers form, move, and change the Earth’s landscape.
  • Students research information about the effects of global warming on glaciers.
  • Students sculpt a detailed replica of mountains with glaciers calving into the ocean.


  • Some students with specials needs may prefer to work with Crayola Model Magic.
  • For added realistic surface effects, apply coats of Crayola Texture It!, Pearl It!, or Glitter It! Mixing Mediums.
  • Research where the largest glaciers are located in the world. Find out what types of animals inhabit glaciers and their surroundings.
  • Read about the Titanic such as "Sinking of the Titanic" by Matt Doeden or "I Was There: On Board the Titanic" by Shelley Tanaka to find out about the dangers of icebergs in the ocean.
  • Create a chart showing all the ways glaciers might be a valuable natural and economic resource.
  • Assessment: Write a paragraph on the differences between glaciers and icebergs. Create a step-by-step flow chart on how glaciers form and move.