Elementary science lesson plans can be difficult to create because of the students’ various background knowledge on the specific topic. Many students will have a general understanding of soils but often it is interchangeable with the word “dirt”.
Before students engage in soil activities, it is important for the teacher to assess students prior knowledge. After assessment, the teacher will modify the soil activities to the needs of his class.
Soil Introduction Lesson
Assess students’ prior knowledge by asking questions about soils in the environment. Teacher writes a question on chart paper such as “what is soil?” Students will discuss the question with an elbow partner and share ideas. Next, the teacher will have students share their ideas and write their responses under the question in point form.
Another option is for the teacher to write 4-5 questions about soil on chart paper. Teacher will hang the chart paper around the classroom. He will read all questions to the students. Students will be divided into groups and be given 2-3 minutes at each question to share and write down ideas specific to the question. After 2 minutes, students will rotate and answer a new question about soils. Lastly, the teacher will bring students together to present the ideas to the class.
- What is soil?
- Where can you find soil?
- What is in soil?
- Why is soil important?
- What colour is soil?
- How is soil made?
Teacher Resources on Soil
After assessing students’ knowledge, it is time to create mini activities to teach students about soils in the environment. Start the lesson by comparing an apple to the earth. This is a wonderful visual to illustrate how much of the earth is covered by soil.
Next, print the material in regards to soil from the Natural Resources Conservation Service as a resource to teach students about soils. Natural Resource Conservation Service created a cartoon worm to answer commonly asked questions about soil. All 13 questions are a great start to educate students about soils in the environment. Young students respond well to cartoon characters and most grade 3 students can read this material independently.
Soil Lesson Samples
Soil Activity 1
Students draw and colour a soil rainbow that illustrates the different colours of soils. Depending on your location, students may be more familiar with brown soil, while other students are more familiar with the red coloured soil. Black, red, yellow, white, brown, and gray are the rainbow colours for soil.
Soil Activity 2
Students are often aware that worms are active in creating soil, but how about all the other little critters. Draw cartoon like centipedes, worms, and springtail to illustrate the different living organisms in the soil. Students can draw and colour.
Students place soil in a clear plastic cup and add the hand drawn bugs. Students will place the bugs in different locations to illustrate how bugs are active below and above the soil.
Soil Activity 3
Illustrate the different soil levels with pudding, cookies, and gummi worms. Place a chocolate chip cookie at the bottom of a clear plastic cup. Chocolate chip cookie represents the bedrock. First soil horizon is level C which is comprised of parent material. Crumbled cookies represent the parent material and are placed on top of the bedrock (chocolate chip cookie).
Level B is the next horizon and it is represented by vanilla pudding. Vanilla pudding represents the subsoil. Level A is the next horizon and it is represented by chocolate pudding. This is the topsoil. Final horizon is
Level O and is represented by sprinkles. Level O is the top layer that is comprised of plant litter. Final step is to add gummi worms and bugs into horizon Level O and Level A to represent the bugs involved in the soil process.
Provide each student with a World’s Greatest Soil Diploma at the end of soils in the environment unit. Simply print the diplomas from the Natural Conservation Resource Service and print student names in cursive for a more authentic look.
Soils in the environment is a typical science unit for primary students. Soil knowledge base for students will increase with engaging and hands on soil activities.