Soil Formation Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we encourage students to manipulate and understand the basic components and processes which help to create soil, and encourage them to explore soil.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • understand how soil is made
  • understand the basic components of soil
  • understand the processes of weathering and erosion


45 minutes


  • Several jars (depends on class size; ensure you have at least 6-9, or 2-3 per station)
  • organic detritus (e.g., leaves, moss, loam, etc.)
  • rocks, crushed into pebbles or dust
  • a fan
  • some dirt
  • beaker
  • water

Key Vocabulary

  • organic matter
  • parent material
  • weathering
  • erosion

Curriculum Standards


Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.


Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.


  • Before class, setup three stations around the classroom.
    • Station 1: Organic Matter. This should contain a few jars or bowls of crushed leaves or other biological forest matter you can easily collect in your backyard or in the woods.
    • Station 2: Parent Matter. This should consist of a few jars or bowls of crushed rocks or powder.
    • Station 3: Weathering & Erosion. This should consist of a mound of dirt, a fan, and a beaker or cup full of water.
  • Have your students read the lesson Soil Formation: Lesson For Kids
  • Hold a short class discussion (5-10 minutes) to ensure student comprehension of the lesson. Some example questions include:
    • What is the difference between organic matter and parent matter?
    • How does weathering differ from erosion?
  • Break the class up into three different groups. Assign one group to each station.

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