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There are several large and small tectonic plates that make up the pieces of Earth’s crust, but how do they fit together? Do coastlines make up all of the plate boundaries? Is each continent its own plate? Your goal with this activity is to find out.

Using your knowledge of the continents and oceans (and maybe a map), let's put the pieces of this puzzle together. Each tectonic plate is found as a puzzle piece in the link below. Your challenge will be to put them in their proper place. Here are the names of the pieces:

  • African
  • Antarctic
  • Arabian
  • Australian
  • Caribbean
  • Cocos
  • Eurasian
  • Indian
  • Juan De Fuca
  • Nazca
  • North American
  • Pacific
  • Philippine
  • Scotia
  • South American


  • Adobe Acrobat pieces to the puzzle
  • Scissors
  • Piece of paper
  • Glue
  • Colored pencils, colored pens, or crayons (optional)
Safety concerns: Be sure to keep all sharp instrument safety rules. As with all science lab activities, the most important safety rule is to follow all teacher directions.


  1. Cut out the pieces of the puzzle.
  2. Glue each puzzle piece to the paper.
  3. Color your model when you finish.
  4. If you get stuck, remember to look at the big picture.


After you complete the puzzle challenge, try this extension. This example of plates and boundaries is made with a model that uses a tennis ball.

Review science lab safety rules here.

Get the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader and Get Quicktime Player. (The QuickTime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE Earth Systems Science core.


Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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