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What is soil made of?

hand holding soil

Hand holding soil (Jing, Pixabay)

hand holding soil

Hand holding soil (Jing, Pixabay)

Format
Subjects
Let's Talk Science

How does this align with my curriculum?

Students will explore the composition and characteristics of different local soils and learn about what makes soil healthy.

Overview

Activities Timing Student Grouping Description
Minds-On: Introduction to Soils 10 minutes Large group Students will learn about the parts and layers of soil
Action: Soil Exploration Centres 4 x 15 min. each (60 minutes total) Small group Students will participate in centre activities about soil
Consolidation: All about My Soil 20 minutes Individual Students will describe, in detail, the sample of soil they collected and explored

This lesson can be done over a few days.

Students will:

  • Learn about the living and nonliving components of soil
  • Explore different types of soil

Learning Goals

Students will:

  • Learn about the living and nonliving components of soil
  • Explore different types of soil

Students can:

  • Describe different characteristics of soil based on observation and exploration
  • Compare different types of soil and record observations using graphic organisers

Success Criteria

Students can:

  • Describe different characteristics of soil based on observation and exploration
  • Compare different types of soil and record observations using graphic organisers

This icon 

Assessment opporunties icon

indicates potential assessment opportunities.

Observations

  • Observe and record students’ responses to questions asked about the parts of soils based on listening to a book or video (Minds-on)

Conversations

  • Listen to and record students as they share observations of soils (Action)
  • Listen to and record students as they classify soil by feel (Action)

Products

  • Students could do labelled drawings of their soil/water mixtures before and after shaking in a science journal or on the Soil Viewer Observations reproducible for Centre 2 (Action)
  • Students could compare and contrast two samples of soil in a science journal or on the Comparing Soil Venn Diagram reproducible (Action)
  • Students could add text and words about the soil they collected in a science journal or on the All about My Soil reproducible (Consolidation)

Evidence of Student Learning

This icon 

Assessment opporunties icon

indicates potential assessment opportunities.

Observations

  • Observe and record students’ responses to questions asked about the parts of soils based on listening to a book or video (Minds-on)

Conversations

  • Listen to and record students as they share observations of soils (Action)
  • Listen to and record students as they classify soil by feel (Action)

Products

  • Students could do labelled drawings of their soil/water mixtures before and after shaking in a science journal or on the Soil Viewer Observations reproducible for Centre 2 (Action)
  • Students could compare and contrast two samples of soil in a science journal or on the Comparing Soil Venn Diagram reproducible (Action)
  • Students could add text and words about the soil they collected in a science journal or on the All about My Soil reproducible (Consolidation)

Students will:

  • Learn about the living and nonliving components of soil
  • Explore different types of soil

Learning Goals

Students will:

  • Learn about the living and nonliving components of soil
  • Explore different types of soil

Students can:

  • Describe different characteristics of soil based on observation and exploration
  • Compare different types of soil and record observations using graphic organisers

Success Criteria

Students can:

  • Describe different characteristics of soil based on observation and exploration
  • Compare different types of soil and record observations using graphic organisers

This icon 

Assessment opporunties icon

indicates potential assessment opportunities.

Observations

  • Observe and record students’ responses to questions asked about the parts of soils based on listening to a book or video (Minds-on)

Conversations

  • Listen to and record students as they share observations of soils (Action)
  • Listen to and record students as they classify soil by feel (Action)

Products

  • Students could do labelled drawings of their soil/water mixtures before and after shaking in a science journal or on the Soil Viewer Observations reproducible for Centre 2 (Action)
  • Students could compare and contrast two samples of soil in a science journal or on the Comparing Soil Venn Diagram reproducible (Action)
  • Students could add text and words about the soil they collected in a science journal or on the All about My Soil reproducible (Consolidation)

Evidence of Student Learning

This icon 

Assessment opporunties icon

indicates potential assessment opportunities.

Observations

  • Observe and record students’ responses to questions asked about the parts of soils based on listening to a book or video (Minds-on)

Conversations

  • Listen to and record students as they share observations of soils (Action)
  • Listen to and record students as they classify soil by feel (Action)

Products

  • Students could do labelled drawings of their soil/water mixtures before and after shaking in a science journal or on the Soil Viewer Observations reproducible for Centre 2 (Action)
  • Students could compare and contrast two samples of soil in a science journal or on the Comparing Soil Venn Diagram reproducible (Action)
  • Students could add text and words about the soil they collected in a science journal or on the All about My Soil reproducible (Consolidation)

Materials and Preparation 

Material/Technology/Setting Quantity
  • Small bag for collecting soil (paper lunch bag or other small bag)
  • Digging tool (such as a spoon or small trowel)
  • Garden gloves *could be shared by students
  • All about My Soil reproducible [Google doc] [Word doc] [PDF]
1 per student

For all centres

  • Recording tools (e.g., pencils, erasers, coloured pencils, paper, science notebooks, cameras, etc.)
 

Centre Activity 1: Exploring Soil

  • Large plastic tote or sand/water table
  • Bag of sand
  • Bag of gravel
  • Bag of potting soil
  • Scoops, rocks, sticks
  • Container with water (optional)
1 (for a centre-based exploration)

Centre Activity 2: Soil Layers Viewer

  • Recycled clear plastic container with tight-fitting lids (e.g., 500 mL water bottle or small food container)
  • Water (enough to fill containers)
  • Soil (from schoolyard or home) - collected safely with adult supervision
  • Masking tape *to be shared
  • Permanent marker *to be shared
  • Funnels (paper or plastic) *to be shared - optional
  • Soil Layers Viewer Observations reproducible [Google doc] [Word doc] [PDF]
I set per student

Centre Activity 3: Soil Close Up

  • Soil (collected by students)
  • Plastic rulers
1 set per student

Centre Activity 4: Comparing Soil

  • Soil (collected by students)
  • Plastic plate
  • Comparing Soil Venn Diagram reproducible [Google doc] [Word doc] [PDF]
I set per student
4 per centre

 

Materials

Material/Technology/Setting Quantity
  • Small bag for collecting soil (paper lunch bag or other small bag)
  • Digging tool (such as a spoon or small trowel)
  • Garden gloves *could be shared by students
  • All about My Soil reproducible [Google doc] [Word doc] [PDF]
1 per student

For all centres

  • Recording tools (e.g., pencils, erasers, coloured pencils, paper, science notebooks, cameras, etc.)
 

Centre Activity 1: Exploring Soil

  • Large plastic tote or sand/water table
  • Bag of sand
  • Bag of gravel
  • Bag of potting soil
  • Scoops, rocks, sticks
  • Container with water (optional)
1 (for a centre-based exploration)

Centre Activity 2: Soil Layers Viewer

  • Recycled clear plastic container with tight-fitting lids (e.g., 500 mL water bottle or small food container)
  • Water (enough to fill containers)
  • Soil (from schoolyard or home) - collected safely with adult supervision
  • Masking tape *to be shared
  • Permanent marker *to be shared
  • Funnels (paper or plastic) *to be shared - optional
  • Soil Layers Viewer Observations reproducible [Google doc] [Word doc] [PDF]
I set per student

Centre Activity 3: Soil Close Up

  • Soil (collected by students)
  • Plastic rulers
1 set per student

Centre Activity 4: Comparing Soil

  • Soil (collected by students)
  • Plastic plate
  • Comparing Soil Venn Diagram reproducible [Google doc] [Word doc] [PDF]
I set per student
4 per centre

 

  • Working with soils is messy. Consider having students explore soils outdoors or if working indoors, cover tables with newspaper or plastic tablecloths or have students work within large cardboard boxes or trays.
  • Laminate the Soil Layers Viewer Activity Card and Soil Texture by Feel Activity Cards or put them in plastic sleeves.
  • Set up materials for centre activities. If you wish, you could set up the exploration centres in an outdoor space.
  • You may wish to do all or only some of the centre activities.

For the Exploring Soil centre activity, put the sand, gravel and potting soil in different parts of the bin.

Suggested set up of centre
Suggested set up of centre (©2022 Let’s Talk Science).
Image - text version

Shown is a colour illustration of a rectangular bin filled with three different materials. A scoop, bucket, twig and stone sit on the surface.

The blue bin is shown on an angle. The top left corner is filled with dark brown soil. The top right corner is filled with pale grey gravel. The rest is filled with golden sand. A child's pink scoop and blue bucket are half covered in sand. A small brown twig and a grey stone sit on the surface.

 

 

Preparation

  • Working with soils is messy. Consider having students explore soils outdoors or if working indoors, cover tables with newspaper or plastic tablecloths or have students work within large cardboard boxes or trays.
  • Laminate the Soil Layers Viewer Activity Card and Soil Texture by Feel Activity Cards or put them in plastic sleeves.
  • Set up materials for centre activities. If you wish, you could set up the exploration centres in an outdoor space.
  • You may wish to do all or only some of the centre activities.

For the Exploring Soil centre activity, put the sand, gravel and potting soil in different parts of the bin.

Suggested set up of centre
Suggested set up of centre (©2022 Let’s Talk Science).
Image - text version

Shown is a colour illustration of a rectangular bin filled with three different materials. A scoop, bucket, twig and stone sit on the surface.

The blue bin is shown on an angle. The top left corner is filled with dark brown soil. The top right corner is filled with pale grey gravel. The rest is filled with golden sand. A child's pink scoop and blue bucket are half covered in sand. A small brown twig and a grey stone sit on the surface.

 

 

  • Working independently at a centre.
  • Following directions in a flow chart.
  • Basic understanding of living and nonliving things.

Student Prior Knowledge and Skills

  • Working independently at a centre.
  • Following directions in a flow chart.
  • Basic understanding of living and nonliving things.
Material/Technology/Setting Quantity
  • Small bag for collecting soil (paper lunch bag or other small bag)
  • Digging tool (such as a spoon or small trowel)
  • Garden gloves *could be shared by students
  • All about My Soil reproducible [Google doc] [Word doc] [PDF]
1 per student

For all centres

  • Recording tools (e.g., pencils, erasers, coloured pencils, paper, science notebooks, cameras, etc.)
 

Centre Activity 1: Exploring Soil

  • Large plastic tote or sand/water table
  • Bag of sand
  • Bag of gravel
  • Bag of potting soil
  • Scoops, rocks, sticks
  • Container with water (optional)
1 (for a centre-based exploration)

Centre Activity 2: Soil Layers Viewer

  • Recycled clear plastic container with tight-fitting lids (e.g., 500 mL water bottle or small food container)
  • Water (enough to fill containers)
  • Soil (from schoolyard or home) - collected safely with adult supervision
  • Masking tape *to be shared
  • Permanent marker *to be shared
  • Funnels (paper or plastic) *to be shared - optional
  • Soil Layers Viewer Observations reproducible [Google doc] [Word doc] [PDF]
I set per student

Centre Activity 3: Soil Close Up

  • Soil (collected by students)
  • Plastic rulers
1 set per student

Centre Activity 4: Comparing Soil

  • Soil (collected by students)
  • Plastic plate
  • Comparing Soil Venn Diagram reproducible [Google doc] [Word doc] [PDF]
I set per student
4 per centre

 

Materials

Material/Technology/Setting Quantity
  • Small bag for collecting soil (paper lunch bag or other small bag)
  • Digging tool (such as a spoon or small trowel)
  • Garden gloves *could be shared by students
  • All about My Soil reproducible [Google doc] [Word doc] [PDF]
1 per student

For all centres

  • Recording tools (e.g., pencils, erasers, coloured pencils, paper, science notebooks, cameras, etc.)
 

Centre Activity 1: Exploring Soil

  • Large plastic tote or sand/water table
  • Bag of sand
  • Bag of gravel
  • Bag of potting soil
  • Scoops, rocks, sticks
  • Container with water (optional)
1 (for a centre-based exploration)

Centre Activity 2: Soil Layers Viewer

  • Recycled clear plastic container with tight-fitting lids (e.g., 500 mL water bottle or small food container)
  • Water (enough to fill containers)
  • Soil (from schoolyard or home) - collected safely with adult supervision
  • Masking tape *to be shared
  • Permanent marker *to be shared
  • Funnels (paper or plastic) *to be shared - optional
  • Soil Layers Viewer Observations reproducible [Google doc] [Word doc] [PDF]
I set per student

Centre Activity 3: Soil Close Up

  • Soil (collected by students)
  • Plastic rulers
1 set per student

Centre Activity 4: Comparing Soil

  • Soil (collected by students)
  • Plastic plate
  • Comparing Soil Venn Diagram reproducible [Google doc] [Word doc] [PDF]
I set per student
4 per centre

 

  • Working with soils is messy. Consider having students explore soils outdoors or if working indoors, cover tables with newspaper or plastic tablecloths or have students work within large cardboard boxes or trays.
  • Laminate the Soil Layers Viewer Activity Card and Soil Texture by Feel Activity Cards or put them in plastic sleeves.
  • Set up materials for centre activities. If you wish, you could set up the exploration centres in an outdoor space.
  • You may wish to do all or only some of the centre activities.

For the Exploring Soil centre activity, put the sand, gravel and potting soil in different parts of the bin.

Suggested set up of centre
Suggested set up of centre (©2022 Let’s Talk Science).
Image - text version

Shown is a colour illustration of a rectangular bin filled with three different materials. A scoop, bucket, twig and stone sit on the surface.

The blue bin is shown on an angle. The top left corner is filled with dark brown soil. The top right corner is filled with pale grey gravel. The rest is filled with golden sand. A child's pink scoop and blue bucket are half covered in sand. A small brown twig and a grey stone sit on the surface.

 

 

Preparation

  • Working with soils is messy. Consider having students explore soils outdoors or if working indoors, cover tables with newspaper or plastic tablecloths or have students work within large cardboard boxes or trays.
  • Laminate the Soil Layers Viewer Activity Card and Soil Texture by Feel Activity Cards or put them in plastic sleeves.
  • Set up materials for centre activities. If you wish, you could set up the exploration centres in an outdoor space.
  • You may wish to do all or only some of the centre activities.

For the Exploring Soil centre activity, put the sand, gravel and potting soil in different parts of the bin.

Suggested set up of centre
Suggested set up of centre (©2022 Let’s Talk Science).
Image - text version

Shown is a colour illustration of a rectangular bin filled with three different materials. A scoop, bucket, twig and stone sit on the surface.

The blue bin is shown on an angle. The top left corner is filled with dark brown soil. The top right corner is filled with pale grey gravel. The rest is filled with golden sand. A child's pink scoop and blue bucket are half covered in sand. A small brown twig and a grey stone sit on the surface.

 

 

  • Working independently at a centre.
  • Following directions in a flow chart.
  • Basic understanding of living and nonliving things.

Student Prior Knowledge and Skills

  • Working independently at a centre.
  • Following directions in a flow chart.
  • Basic understanding of living and nonliving things.

Teaching and Learning Activities 

Minds-On: Introduction to Soils (10 min.)

Instructions Teaching Tips
Have students watch a video such as What’s the dirt on dirt? (3:43 min.) or read a book such as Dirt, the Scoop on Soil (a read aloud can also be viewed here) to learn about the main parts and layers of soil.
Line drawing of speech bubbles

Discussions 

Discussion prompts can include:

  • "What are the four main parts of soil?"
  • “What are the different layers of soil?”
Line drawing of a computer monitor with a play button

Images and Videos 

For students who are visually impaired, pause to describe images in the video or book.

Action: Soil Exploration Centres (60 min.)

Instructions Teaching Tips

Provide each student with a bag for collecting soil. These soil samples will be used during the Action activities.

Students could collect samples of soil from:

  • The school yard if possible. Students would need scooping tools to do this and gloves. Encourage students to collect soil from different places (e.g., near play equipment, near the edge of grass, from a flower bed, etc.)
  • Around the neighbourhood, or near home.

Students should divide their sample of soil in half. Half will be used for Centre 2 and the other half used in Centres 3 and 4.

Line drawing of an exclamation mark inside of a triangle

Safety 

Review safety procedures for taking part in outdoor activities at school.

If collecting soil near home, have students go with an adult and only collect soil in appropriate places.

Line drawing of two gears next to each other

Connections 

If students are unable to collect soil samples, you could provide students with samples using the soil from Centre Activity 1.

Divide students into groups to do centre activities. Activities could be done concurrently or sequentially.  

Centre Activity 1: Exploring Soils

Assessment opporunties icon

Students freely explore the soils, tools and objects in the bin. Prompt students to share observations of the soil using their senses (sight, smell and touch). 

Line drawing of a chalkboard with "abc" written on it

Language 

Make sure students have access to a word wall of descriptive words such as smooth, gritty, rough, etc.

Line drawing of speech bubbles

Discussions 

Discussion prompts can include:

  • “What observations can you make about these soils?”
  • "How are the soils alike? How are they different?"
  • "What can you do with these soils?"
  • “What is the living part of this soil? What is the nonliving part of this soil?”
Line drawing of an exclamation mark inside of a triangle

Safety 

Review how to safely explore the materials (e.g., keeping the soil in the bin).

line drawing of a lightbulb

Idea 

Students with visual impairments could work with a buddy who could describe the colour of the soil.

Centre Activity 2: Soil Layers Viewer

Students explore soil components by mixing soil and water and allowing it to settle out by weight.

Assessment opporunties icon

Students independently follow the steps on the Soil Layers Viewer Activity Card reproducible [Google doc] [Word doc] [PDF].

Students should fill their containers about ¾ full of water and then add about half of the soil they collected.

Soil Layers Viewer Activity Card
Soil Layers Viewer Activity Card (©2022 Let’s Talk Science).

 

Assessment opporunties icon

Students can record observations of the soil viewer before shaking, after shaking, and after settling overnight in a science journal, on paper or on the Soil Layers Viewer Observations reproducible [Google doc] [Word doc] [PDF]. Observations can include labelled drawings or photographs.

Soil Layers Viewer Observations reproducible
Soil Layers Viewer Observations reproducible (©2022 Let’s Talk Science).

 Click here to view a video version of this activity.

line drawing of a lightbulb

Idea 

Permanent marker is best when labelling things that may get wet.

Line drawing of an exclamation mark inside of a triangle

Safety 

Any spilled water should be cleaned up immediately.

line drawing of a lightbulb

Idea 

Students with visual impairments could work with a buddy who could describe what is seen inside the container.

Centre Activity 3: Soil Texture by Feel

Students identify the type of soil they have by feel using the Soil Texture by Feel Activity Card reproducible [Google doc] [Word doc] [PDF]. In it they will explore the texture of soil using a:

  • Ball squeeze test
  • Ribbon test

Using a handful of soil, demonstrate the process of doing both tests and following the flowchart. Click here to see a video of this process being demonstrated as well as explanations of how to determine soil type.

Page 1 of the Soil Texture by Feel Activity Card
Page 1 of the Soil Texture by Feel Activity Card (©2022 Let’s Talk Science).
Soil texture by feel page 2
Soil texture by feel page 2 (©2022 Let’s Talk Science).

 

line drawing of a lightbulb

Idea 

If students are not familiar with following a flowchart, teach a mini-lesson on how to do so before this activity.

line drawing of a lightbulb

Idea 

Students with visual impairments could work with a buddy who could describe what is seen during testing.

Centre Activity 4: Comparing Soil

Students compare and contrast the characteristics of different soil samples with a partner.

Students each put their soil on a plastic plate and spread it around so all parts of the soil are visible.

Assessment opporunties icon

Encourage students to select their own criteria for comparison such as colour, particle size, amount of organic matter, smell, and ability to pour.

Assessment opporunties icon

Prompt students to provide descriptive words to characterize the soil samples.

Students can record observations of the soil in a science journal, on paper or on the Comparing Soil Venn Diagram reproducible [Google doc] [Word doc] [PDF].

 

Comparing Soil Venn Diagram reproducible
Comparing Soil Venn Diagram reproducible (©2022 Let’s Talk Science).
line drawing of a lightbulb

Idea 

Students with visual impairments could work with a buddy who could describe what is seen in each soil sample.

Consolidation: All About My Soil (20 min.)

Instructions Teaching Tips

Have students consolidate their learning about the characteristics of the soil they collected and explored. Students could do this on a piece of paper, in a science journal, or on the All about My Soil reproducible [Google doc] [Word doc] [PDF]

All about My Soil reproducible
All about My Soil reproducible (©2022 Let’s Talk Science)

 

Line drawing of a chalkboard with "abc" written on it

Language

Make sure students have access to a word wall of terminology used to describe soil. 

Incorporate vocabulary in other relevant languages as well (e.g., French).

 

Background Information for Teachers

Soil Texture

Texture is one of the most important properties of a soil. It is directly related to a soil’s ability to hold water and nutrients. There are several ways to determine the texture of soil. Soil may be sent to a laboratory for analysis. It can also be tested using the two methods used by students - the jar method and testing by feel. These two methods are less precise than laboratory methods, but they do give people, like farmers, a good estimation of the components in soil.

The texture of soil is classified according to the percentages of sand, silt and clay it contains. This is often represented using a soil texture triangle.

Soil texture triangle showing the names for different types of soil. The type of soil is determined by the ratio of clay, silt and sand
Soil texture triangle showing the names for different types of soil. The type of soil is determined by the ratio of clay, silt and sand (Source: Let's Talk Science based on an image by Mikenorton [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons).
Image - Text version

Shown is a colour graphic illustrating the names for soil according to the percentages of clay, silt, and sand it contains.

The illustration is triangular. The triangle is divided into 12 sections of different shapes and sizes. Each section has a different colour and is labelled with a different name. The three sides of the triangle are each marked with the numbers from 0 to 100 at regular intervals.

The left edge is labelled Clay %, with an arrow pointing up. The names of the sections along this edge are: Sand at 0 to 10%, Loamy Sand at 10 to15%, Sandy Loam at 15 to 20%, Sandy Clay Loam at 20 to 35%, Sandy Clay from 35 to 55%, and Clay from 55 to 100%.

The right edge of the triangle is labelled Silt%, with an arrow pointing down. The names of the sections along this edge are: Clay at 0 to 40%, Silty Clay at 40 to 60%, Silty Clay Loam at 60 to 73%, Silty Loam at 73 to 87%, and Silt from 87 to 100%.

The bottom edge of the triangle is labelled Sand %, with an arrow pointing to the left. The names of the sections along the edge are: Silt at 0 to 20%, Silty Loam at 20 to 60%, Sandy Loam at 50 to 70%, Loamy Sand at 70 to 96%, and Sand from 96 to 100%.

There are two sections in the centre of the triangle, which don't touch any edges. The first is Clay Loam, just under the large Clay section. The second is Loam, just under the Clay loam section.

 

Additional Resources

Reproducibles

Books

Dirt, The Scoop on Soil
By Natalie M. Rosinsky

Amazing Science-Delve into the how’s and why’s of science in this fact-filled series. These books answer kids’ questions about the world around them—and encourage them to ask more.

ISBN: 1404800123

Cover of the book
Cover of the book Dirt: The Scoop on Soil by Mandy Ross (Source: Open Library).

Videos

What’s the dirt on dirt? (2015) by SciShow kids (3:43 min.)
A SciShow Kids viewer asked: What is dirt made of? Join Jessi to get the dirt on … dirt!

Reproducibles and Media

Reproducibles

Books

Dirt, The Scoop on Soil
By Natalie M. Rosinsky

Amazing Science-Delve into the how’s and why’s of science in this fact-filled series. These books answer kids’ questions about the world around them—and encourage them to ask more.

ISBN: 1404800123

Cover of the book
Cover of the book Dirt: The Scoop on Soil by Mandy Ross (Source: Open Library).

Videos

What’s the dirt on dirt? (2015) by SciShow kids (3:43 min.)
A SciShow Kids viewer asked: What is dirt made of? Join Jessi to get the dirt on … dirt!

Science

  • Students could apply their learning and skills from this inquiry to Design & Build a Soil Sifter, in which students design and construct a prototype soil sifting system that separates a soil mixture into large, medium and small particles.
  • Students can learn about soil health by doing the Healthy Soil lesson.

Mathematical Thinking

  • Measure and describe the relative sizes of soil particles using non-standard measurement (e.g., large, medium, small, very small or fine).
  • Use standard units to measure the size of certain particles (e.g., "The gravel pieces in this sample are about 3 to 5 mm in diameter," “The ribbon of soil is 3 cm long).

Computational Thinking

  • Students could rewrite the flowchart as pseudocode for programming. For example, the ball test could look like this:
flowchart for soil
Soil squeeze test pseudocoding flowchart (©2022 Let’s Talk Science)
Image - Text version

Shown is a colour flowchart of questions and answers in different coloured shapes, connected by grey arrows.

In the top left corner is a yellow oblong with rounded ends, containing the word "start". Below, a grey arrow leads to a long purple rectangle with the phrase "Try to make a ball". Below, an arrow leads to a blue diamond that reads "Can you make a ball?"

Below, an arrow leads through a green oval with the word "Yes", to a yellow oblong reading "Go to step 4".

To the right of the blue diamond, a second arrow leads through a red circle with the word "No" to another blue diamond. This contains the phrase "Is it too dry?"

Above, an arrow leads through a green oval with the word "Yes" to a purple rectangle with the phrase "Add more water". Another arrow leads from the purple rectangle, left and down to the blue diamond reading "Can you make a ball?"

To the right of the blue diamond reading "Is it too dry?" An arrow leads through a red circle with the word "No", to a third blue diamond. This one reads "Is it too wet?"

Above, an arrow leads through a green oval with the word "Yes", to a purple rectangle reading "Add more soil". From the top of this rectangle, an arrow leads back to the first blue diamond, which reads "Can you make a ball?".

Below the diamond reading "Is it too wet?", a second arrow leads through a red circle reading "No", to a yellow oblong with the word "Sand". This shape is the final one of the chart, in the bottom right corner.

 You may need to teach a mini-lesson on flowchart shapes and their meaning.

  • Students could write code for the soil texture tests (ball test and ribbon test) in a program such as ScratchJr.

Extensions

Science

  • Students could apply their learning and skills from this inquiry to Design & Build a Soil Sifter, in which students design and construct a prototype soil sifting system that separates a soil mixture into large, medium and small particles.
  • Students can learn about soil health by doing the Healthy Soil lesson.

Mathematical Thinking

  • Measure and describe the relative sizes of soil particles using non-standard measurement (e.g., large, medium, small, very small or fine).
  • Use standard units to measure the size of certain particles (e.g., "The gravel pieces in this sample are about 3 to 5 mm in diameter," “The ribbon of soil is 3 cm long).

Computational Thinking

  • Students could rewrite the flowchart as pseudocode for programming. For example, the ball test could look like this:
flowchart for soil
Soil squeeze test pseudocoding flowchart (©2022 Let’s Talk Science)
Image - Text version

Shown is a colour flowchart of questions and answers in different coloured shapes, connected by grey arrows.

In the top left corner is a yellow oblong with rounded ends, containing the word "start". Below, a grey arrow leads to a long purple rectangle with the phrase "Try to make a ball". Below, an arrow leads to a blue diamond that reads "Can you make a ball?"

Below, an arrow leads through a green oval with the word "Yes", to a yellow oblong reading "Go to step 4".

To the right of the blue diamond, a second arrow leads through a red circle with the word "No" to another blue diamond. This contains the phrase "Is it too dry?"

Above, an arrow leads through a green oval with the word "Yes" to a purple rectangle with the phrase "Add more water". Another arrow leads from the purple rectangle, left and down to the blue diamond reading "Can you make a ball?"

To the right of the blue diamond reading "Is it too dry?" An arrow leads through a red circle with the word "No", to a third blue diamond. This one reads "Is it too wet?"

Above, an arrow leads through a green oval with the word "Yes", to a purple rectangle reading "Add more soil". From the top of this rectangle, an arrow leads back to the first blue diamond, which reads "Can you make a ball?".

Below the diamond reading "Is it too wet?", a second arrow leads through a red circle reading "No", to a yellow oblong with the word "Sand". This shape is the final one of the chart, in the bottom right corner.

 You may need to teach a mini-lesson on flowchart shapes and their meaning.

  • Students could write code for the soil texture tests (ball test and ribbon test) in a program such as ScratchJr.

What is soil?
This Backgrounder, by Let’s Talk Science, includes a definition of soil and information about soil texture and a description of the various layers of soil.

How to Make a Flowchart for Programming Easy to Understand
This blog article has learning strategies and tips for using flowcharts to teach programming.

Learn More

What is soil?
This Backgrounder, by Let’s Talk Science, includes a definition of soil and information about soil texture and a description of the various layers of soil.

How to Make a Flowchart for Programming Easy to Understand
This blog article has learning strategies and tips for using flowcharts to teach programming.

Jaja, N (2016). Understanding the Texture of Your Soil for Agricultural Productivity. Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia State University.

Scot .Environment (Sept 4, 2015). Soil Texture [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/wspKtgHzT-c

References

Jaja, N (2016). Understanding the Texture of Your Soil for Agricultural Productivity. Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia State University.

Scot .Environment (Sept 4, 2015). Soil Texture [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/wspKtgHzT-c

Reproducibles

Books

Dirt, The Scoop on Soil
By Natalie M. Rosinsky

Amazing Science-Delve into the how’s and why’s of science in this fact-filled series. These books answer kids’ questions about the world around them—and encourage them to ask more.

ISBN: 1404800123

Cover of the book
Cover of the book Dirt: The Scoop on Soil by Mandy Ross (Source: Open Library).

Videos

What’s the dirt on dirt? (2015) by SciShow kids (3:43 min.)
A SciShow Kids viewer asked: What is dirt made of? Join Jessi to get the dirt on … dirt!

Reproducibles and Media

Reproducibles

Books

Dirt, The Scoop on Soil
By Natalie M. Rosinsky

Amazing Science-Delve into the how’s and why’s of science in this fact-filled series. These books answer kids’ questions about the world around them—and encourage them to ask more.

ISBN: 1404800123

Cover of the book
Cover of the book Dirt: The Scoop on Soil by Mandy Ross (Source: Open Library).

Videos

What’s the dirt on dirt? (2015) by SciShow kids (3:43 min.)
A SciShow Kids viewer asked: What is dirt made of? Join Jessi to get the dirt on … dirt!

Science

  • Students could apply their learning and skills from this inquiry to Design & Build a Soil Sifter, in which students design and construct a prototype soil sifting system that separates a soil mixture into large, medium and small particles.
  • Students can learn about soil health by doing the Healthy Soil lesson.

Mathematical Thinking

  • Measure and describe the relative sizes of soil particles using non-standard measurement (e.g., large, medium, small, very small or fine).
  • Use standard units to measure the size of certain particles (e.g., "The gravel pieces in this sample are about 3 to 5 mm in diameter," “The ribbon of soil is 3 cm long).

Computational Thinking

  • Students could rewrite the flowchart as pseudocode for programming. For example, the ball test could look like this:
flowchart for soil
Soil squeeze test pseudocoding flowchart (©2022 Let’s Talk Science)
Image - Text version

Shown is a colour flowchart of questions and answers in different coloured shapes, connected by grey arrows.

In the top left corner is a yellow oblong with rounded ends, containing the word "start". Below, a grey arrow leads to a long purple rectangle with the phrase "Try to make a ball". Below, an arrow leads to a blue diamond that reads "Can you make a ball?"

Below, an arrow leads through a green oval with the word "Yes", to a yellow oblong reading "Go to step 4".

To the right of the blue diamond, a second arrow leads through a red circle with the word "No" to another blue diamond. This contains the phrase "Is it too dry?"

Above, an arrow leads through a green oval with the word "Yes" to a purple rectangle with the phrase "Add more water". Another arrow leads from the purple rectangle, left and down to the blue diamond reading "Can you make a ball?"

To the right of the blue diamond reading "Is it too dry?" An arrow leads through a red circle with the word "No", to a third blue diamond. This one reads "Is it too wet?"

Above, an arrow leads through a green oval with the word "Yes", to a purple rectangle reading "Add more soil". From the top of this rectangle, an arrow leads back to the first blue diamond, which reads "Can you make a ball?".

Below the diamond reading "Is it too wet?", a second arrow leads through a red circle reading "No", to a yellow oblong with the word "Sand". This shape is the final one of the chart, in the bottom right corner.

 You may need to teach a mini-lesson on flowchart shapes and their meaning.

  • Students could write code for the soil texture tests (ball test and ribbon test) in a program such as ScratchJr.

Extensions

Science

  • Students could apply their learning and skills from this inquiry to Design & Build a Soil Sifter, in which students design and construct a prototype soil sifting system that separates a soil mixture into large, medium and small particles.
  • Students can learn about soil health by doing the Healthy Soil lesson.

Mathematical Thinking

  • Measure and describe the relative sizes of soil particles using non-standard measurement (e.g., large, medium, small, very small or fine).
  • Use standard units to measure the size of certain particles (e.g., "The gravel pieces in this sample are about 3 to 5 mm in diameter," “The ribbon of soil is 3 cm long).

Computational Thinking

  • Students could rewrite the flowchart as pseudocode for programming. For example, the ball test could look like this:
flowchart for soil
Soil squeeze test pseudocoding flowchart (©2022 Let’s Talk Science)
Image - Text version

Shown is a colour flowchart of questions and answers in different coloured shapes, connected by grey arrows.

In the top left corner is a yellow oblong with rounded ends, containing the word "start". Below, a grey arrow leads to a long purple rectangle with the phrase "Try to make a ball". Below, an arrow leads to a blue diamond that reads "Can you make a ball?"

Below, an arrow leads through a green oval with the word "Yes", to a yellow oblong reading "Go to step 4".

To the right of the blue diamond, a second arrow leads through a red circle with the word "No" to another blue diamond. This contains the phrase "Is it too dry?"

Above, an arrow leads through a green oval with the word "Yes" to a purple rectangle with the phrase "Add more water". Another arrow leads from the purple rectangle, left and down to the blue diamond reading "Can you make a ball?"

To the right of the blue diamond reading "Is it too dry?" An arrow leads through a red circle with the word "No", to a third blue diamond. This one reads "Is it too wet?"

Above, an arrow leads through a green oval with the word "Yes", to a purple rectangle reading "Add more soil". From the top of this rectangle, an arrow leads back to the first blue diamond, which reads "Can you make a ball?".

Below the diamond reading "Is it too wet?", a second arrow leads through a red circle reading "No", to a yellow oblong with the word "Sand". This shape is the final one of the chart, in the bottom right corner.

 You may need to teach a mini-lesson on flowchart shapes and their meaning.

  • Students could write code for the soil texture tests (ball test and ribbon test) in a program such as ScratchJr.

What is soil?
This Backgrounder, by Let’s Talk Science, includes a definition of soil and information about soil texture and a description of the various layers of soil.

How to Make a Flowchart for Programming Easy to Understand
This blog article has learning strategies and tips for using flowcharts to teach programming.

Learn More

What is soil?
This Backgrounder, by Let’s Talk Science, includes a definition of soil and information about soil texture and a description of the various layers of soil.

How to Make a Flowchart for Programming Easy to Understand
This blog article has learning strategies and tips for using flowcharts to teach programming.

Jaja, N (2016). Understanding the Texture of Your Soil for Agricultural Productivity. Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia State University.

Scot .Environment (Sept 4, 2015). Soil Texture [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/wspKtgHzT-c

References

Jaja, N (2016). Understanding the Texture of Your Soil for Agricultural Productivity. Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia State University.

Scot .Environment (Sept 4, 2015). Soil Texture [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/wspKtgHzT-c