Earth science lessons are fun for kids! They get to ask and answer questions about our beautiful planet through hands-on activities. But, these lessons are not complete without some activities focused on dirt- soil, to be exact. Elementary students seemingly love to get dirty, so why not let them get down to it and learn about one of Earth’s amazing and underrated resources? Follow along for an amazing list of 20 ideas for interesting and hands-on soil activities.
1. Plant Growth Activity
This favorite soil science project works for STEM fairs or can be used to form a long-term investigation! Students will be able to test soil nutrients to see whether or not plants grow better in one type of soil than another. You could even test multiple types of soil.
Learn More: Generation Genius
2. Analyze Soil Composition
Help kids become soil scientists as they analyze the quality and composition of the organic material- distinguishing various soil qualities as they go.
Learn More: Nature.org
3. Sid the Science Kid: The Dirt on Dirt
Younger students will love this video series as a stand-alone lesson or as part of a unit on the soil. These videos are great teacher time savers and offer an excellent springboard point for your STEM lessons about soil.
Learn More: PBS Learning Media
4. Soil Composition Lesson
This is a great lesson launch for upper elementary students to teach learners how soil is composed of various things and is an important element in many aspects of daily life.
Learn More: PBS Learning Media
5. Leveled Reading
Add these texts to your Earth science and soil lessons. Many people do not realize that healthy soil is important to daily life. These reads are a great way to start your exploration of soil, as they outline the basis and importance of this often overlooked science topic.
Learn More: National Geographic
6. Interactive Soil Map by State
This digital soil resource outlines the soil profile of each state. This online tool gives soil properties for all fifty states, including what is grown, the proper name of the soil samples, fun facts, and more!
Learn More: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
7. Soil Vocabulary
Give kids the opportunity to learn terms about soil by learning root words with this easy-to-follow informational sheet for students. They need to understand the vocabulary so that they comprehend the different soil layers.
Learn More: Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
8. What’s Our Soil Worth?
Perfect for whole-class instruction, this lesson plan offers a variety of soil-type slides, a form for students, and a list of companion resources to help launch their soil activity whilst keeping kids engaged hands-on!
Learn More: National Agriculture in the Classroom
9. Outdoor Soil Study
Using innovative soil activities like this one is a fantastic way to treat your kiddos to a real-life soil exploration. Invite them to dig up a bunch of dirt from your schoolyard or other locations with differing soil types. Then, arm them with tools like magnifying glasses, tweezers, or sieves before allowing them to use their tools to explore the properties of each soil sample.
Learn More: Rainy Day Mum
10. Take a Virtual Field Trip
Your littles are in for a treat with this immersive experience. Dazzle them with an underground tour to help them visualize what goes on right beneath their feet. Encourage them to see how many creepy crawlies they can spot as this innovative video takes them on a virtual tour of life below the surface.
Learn More: Virtual Multimodal Museum Plus
11. Celebrate World Soil Day
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has put together this short list of six soil activity models to do with your students in celebration of World Soil Day. You could add these fun experiments to your science soil unit!
Learn More: Food and Agriculture Organization
12. Dirt Detectives
This simple and effective activity only requires a few tablespoons of soil from different places and a student lab worksheet for students to record their findings. You could even utilize this on a soil activities choice board where kids can become scientists that study soil.
Learn More: PBS Kids
13. Soil Basics
Have students utilize this website to do some pre-research about soil. From soil layers to quality and everything in between, this website offers a wide variety of basic information to help students learn about this organic material.
Learn More: Soil Science Society of America
14. Use Diagrams
This website shows a variety of helpful diagrams for students to learn about and accompany any layers of soil activity that you may have to offer. Students can learn the components of soil just by visiting this website prior to doing any soil experiment. To bind the content to memory, have them design their very own diagrams in groups.
Learn More: Nature.com
15. Edible Soil Layers
This delicious and interactive lesson offers kids a “cup of the soil” that will really help them visualize (and taste) the layers of soil that make up the crust. Of all activities with soil, this will probably be the most memorable for students because, let’s face it, kids love to eat!
Learn More: Learning Resources
16. Soil Sample Stations
Soil STEM activities work best when kids are able to move around to keep engaged, so why not get kids up and moving with soil sample stations around the room? This soil lesson helps kids understand the variety of soil types, and while it’s labeled as middle school, it’s appropriate for upper elementary simply by changing the standards.
Learn More: GLAquarium.com
17. Soil Texture Shaker
When it comes to soil labs, this one needs to be on your list. Combine soil samples found around your area with the required liquids and watch as the solution settles before analyzing the composition.
Learn More: YouTube
18. Use Soil Testing Kits
Purchase soil testing kits for another soil lab experiment and have students bring in a soil sample from their homes. It will help them understand the properties of soil as well as tell them what types of soil are common in their area.
Learn More: Teaching AP Science
19. Soil Life Survey
Many soil lessons focus on the soil itself, but this one, in particular, focuses on the life (or lack of) that can be found in soil. Have students discover the vitality of the soil at school with a soil life survey.
Learn More: Childhood By Nature
20. Create a Wormery
Whether you have 1st-grade students, 3rd-grade students, or anyone in between, get the learners interested in soil by building a worm farm using a typical glass tank. Have your students observe the worms daily and record what they observe.
Learn More: Child’s Play ABC