Soil science: 20 activities for elementary school children

Earth science lessons are fun for kids! They can ask and answer questions about our beautiful planet through hands-on activities. But, these lessons aren’t complete without some earth-focused activities, to be exact. Elementary school kids apparently like to get dirty, so why not let them get down to business and discover one of Earth’s amazing and underrated resources? Follow us for an amazing list of 20 interesting and practical floor activity ideas.

1. Plant growth activity

This favorite soil science project works for STEM fairs or can be used to form a long term survey! Students can test soil nutrients to see whether or not plants grow better in one type of soil than another. You can even test multiple soil types.

Learn more: Generation Genius

2. Analyze soil composition

Help kids become soil scientists by analyzing the quality and composition of organic matter, distinguishing various soil qualities as you go.

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3. Sid the Science Kid: Dirt on Dirt

Younger students will love this video series as a stand-alone lesson or as part of an on-floor unit. These videos save teachers time and are a great springboard for your on-the-floor STEM lessons.

Learn more: PBS learning material

4. Soil Composition Lesson

This is a great lesson starter for upper elementary students to teach learners how soil is made up of various things and is an important element in many aspects of daily life.

Learn more here: PBS learning material

5. Level Reading

Add these texts to your Earth and Soil Science lessons. Many people don’t realize that healthy soil is important for everyday life. These readings are a great way to start your soil exploration, as they outline the basis and importance of this often overlooked scientific subject.

Learn more: National geographic

6. Interactive map of soils by state

This soil digital resource describes the soil profile of each state. This online tool gives soil properties for all fifty states, including what is grown, proper names of soil samples, fun facts and more!

Learn more: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

7. Soil Vocabulary

Give kids the opportunity to learn about soil terms by learning root words with this easy-to-follow fact sheet for students. They must understand the vocabulary to understand the different layers of soil.

Learn more: Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

8. What is our soil worth?

Perfect for whole-class teaching, this lesson plan features a variety of soil-type slides, a form for students, and a list of accompanying resources to help get their soil activity started while keeping kids engaged!

Learn more: National agriculture in the classroom

9. Study of the exterior ground

Using innovative soil experiments and a field log, this study tracks real-time student data to investigate this overlooked organic matter. They’ll learn about soil quality, soil types and more using these simple fun and interactive soil science tests.

Learn more: Field Museum

10. Take a virtual field trip

The Underground Adventure exhibit is a great introduction to the ground. Use this link as an option for students to take a virtual field trip to discover why this organic material is so important. Add it to a floor choice board where students can choose the activities they want to do.

Learn more: Field Museum

11. Celebrate World Soil Day

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has put together this short list of six sample soil activities to do with your students to celebrate World Soil Day. You can add these fun experiments to your science unit on the floor!

Learn more: Food and Agriculture Organization

12. Dirt Detectives

This simple and effective activity only requires a few tablespoons of soil from different locations and a lab worksheet for students to record their findings. You can even use it on a Soil Activity Choice Board where kids can become scientists studying the soil.

Learn more: PBS Kids

13. Soil bases

Have students use this website to do some preliminary soil research. From soil layers to quality and everything in between, this website offers a wide variety of background information to help students learn about this organic matter.

Learn more: Soil Science Society of America

14. Use Diagrams

This website shows a variety of useful diagrams for students to learn about and support all the layers of soil activity you might have to offer. Students can learn the components of soil simply by visiting this website before doing any soil experiment. To link content to memory, have them design their own diagrams in groups.

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15. Edible Soil Layers

This delicious and interactive lesson gives kids an “earth cup” that will really help them visualize (and taste) the layers of earth that make up the crust. Of all the dirt activities, this one will probably be the most memorable for students because, let’s face it, kids love to eat!

Learn more: Learning Resources

16. Soil sampling stations

Soil STEM activities work best when kids are able to move around to stay engaged, so why not get kids moving with in-room soil sampler stations? This soil lesson helps children understand the variety of soil types, and although it is labeled as middle school, it is suitable for upper primary just by changing the standards.

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17. Ground Texture Shaker

As far as soil labs go, this one has to be on your list. Combine soil samples found around your area with the required liquids and watch the solution settle before analyzing the composition.

Learn more: Teagasc

18. Use soil test kits

Purchase soil test kits for another soil lab experiment and have students bring a soil sample from home. This will help them understand soil properties and tell them what types of soil are common in their area.

Learn more: AP Science Education

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 the soil. Introduce students to the vitality of the soil at school with an investigation into the life of the soil.

Learn more: ABC of Child’s Play

20. Create a dewormer

Whether you have 1st graders, 3rd graders, or anyone in between, engage ground-level learners by building a worm farm using a typical glass tank. Have your students observe the worms daily and record what they observe.

Learn more: ABC of Child’s Play

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