Carbon Cycle Poster

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In this activity, learners gain knowledge about how carbon moves through all four of the Earth’s major spheres (biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and lithosphere), and understand how humans influence the carbon cycle and contribute to global climate change. Learners work in groups to create a diagram to show how the Earth's major spheres are connected by diffusion, respiration, burial, and weathering. This detailed lesson plan includes key vocabulary words, discussion questions, resources for educators, and is standards-based.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model

Chinese, English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • poster or butcher paper
  • four colors of construction paper (we suggest blue, green, yellow, and brown)
  • scotch tape
  • scissors
  • colored pencils, crayons, or markers
  • Carbon Flow Arrows
  • Carbon Cycle Poster Alteration Cards
  • Carbon Cycle Poster Alteration Answers


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Geochemical Cycles
    • Earth Structure
      • Rocks and Minerals
      • Oceans and Water
      • Atmosphere
      • Biosphere
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Energy Flow and Chemical Cycles
      • Human Impact
  • Physical Sciences
    • States of Matter
      • Changes of Phase


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch


Foreign language versions of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • California Academy of Sciences


  • , California Academy of Sciences, 2008