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Soil Activities for Kids

Instructor: Melinda Santos
Soil serves many functions, from filtering rainwater to growing crops. Allow students to explore the natural features and functions of soil by completing some of the activities below.

Study Soil Through a Microscope or Magnifying Glass

Students can learn a lot about soil composition and texture by closely examining it under a microscope or with a magnifying glass. Provide students with various types of soil, a sieve and either a magnifying glass or microscope. Then allow students to sift through and examine the samples.

You can preface this activity by showing the Soil Characteristics & Development video lesson to teach students more about the different characteristics of soil and the factors that influence its composition.

Demonstrating How Soil Acts as a Filter

The materials needed for this activity include two 3 oz disposable cups, two 5 oz disposable cups with holes at the bottom, sand, top soil, Kool-Aid and toothpicks. To conduct the experiment, students do the following:

  • Fill the first 5 oz cup a quarter of the way full of sand, then add a layer of top soil until the cup is half full.
  • Place the 5 oz cup inside the 3 oz cup, using two toothpicks along the side of the smaller cup to allow air to escape.
  • Pour some of the Kool-Aid into the top cup and allow it to filter through.
  • Remove the top cup and examine how the liquid in the bottom cup looks.
  • Using the second set of cups, repeat the same procedure as above, except use only sand.
  • Compare the results from using a mix of soil and sand to those from using only sand.

Growing in Different Types of Soils

This experiment allows students to hypothesize which types of soil are adequate for growing and which are not. Have each student bring in dirt or soil from their backyards or provide a variety of samples for the class to use. You'll also need to provide disposable cups with a few holes in the bottom and seeds. Then, have students:

  • Fill their containers with one of the soils
  • Plant seeds in their cup
  • Water the soil until saturated and then place the containers in a sunny location

Have children record their hypothesis for which soils will grow the best and the worst and record their observations as the seeds begin to sprout. Students can watch an engaging video lesson on soil types before this activity.

Worm Farm

All you need is an aquarium or terrarium, soil, worms and water. Add the soil and worms to the container, then saturate the soil with water. Every day, allow students to observe the worms and discuss how they aerate the soil as they tunnel through it. Mix in small, shredded scraps of fruit or vegetables so students can see what and how worms eat. You can also plant a few seeds in the soil and allow the class to watch them sprout.

The Soil Food Web lesson can further elaborate on how soil-dwelling organisms affect the soil they live in and their relationships to one another.

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