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Plate Tectonics Lesson Plan

Learning Objective

Students will be able to explain the concept of plate tectonics, identify different types of plate boundaries and their effects on the Earth’s surface, and create an animated gif using Brush Ninja.


  • Interactive whiteboard or projector
  • Laptops or tablets with internet access
  • Pen and paper to take notes
  • Brush Ninja website
  • Plate tectonics diagrams and images for reference


  • Begin by asking students if they have ever felt an earthquake or heard about a volcano erupting.
  • Ask them what they think causes these natural disasters.
  • Introduce the concept of plate tectonics as the theory that explains how the Earth’s outer shell is made up of plates that move around on top of the molten mantle beneath.
  • Show diagrams and images of different types of plate boundaries (convergent, divergent, transform).
  • Explain how each type moves and what kind of landforms can be created at each boundary.
  • Divide students into pairs or small groups and assign them one type of boundary to focus on.
  • Instruct them to research more about their assigned boundary using reputable online sources or books from the classroom library.
  • Then have students use Brush Ninja to create an animated gif that shows how their assigned boundary moves.


  • Observe students while they are researching and creating their gifs to ensure understanding of plate movements at each type of boundary.
  • Evaluate completed gifs based on accuracy in depicting movement at their assigned boundary as well as creativity in design.


  • Have students present their gifs to the class, explaining why certain features were included in their design choices.
  • Encourage students to share their gifs on a class website or social media platform to showcase their learning.

How to animate with Brush Ninja

This video teaches the basics of using Brush Ninja

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Note: The lessons are written with the assumption that teachers will be using them as a starting point, and will be adapting them to suit the needs of their students and curriculum.

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