How Soil is Formed Lesson Plan: Soil Sample Experiments

Submitted by: Mark Wright

Grade Levels: K-3

In this multi-day lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades K-3, students use BrainPOP Jr. resources to explore how soil is formed. Students will also explore some of soil’s components through various experiments, books, and online resources, and explain the process of soil formation verbally and in writing using web 2.0 tools.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Explore how soil is formed and some of its components through various experiments, books, and online resources.
  2. Explain the process of soil formation verbally in writing using web 2.0 tools.

Materials:

  • Soil sample probe
  • Large sealable baggies
  • Soil samples
  • Science journals
  • Vocabulary card template from Takscopes.com
  • Several books on soil
  • Two shallow pans
  • Deep pan
  • Soil
  • Soil with grass growing in it
  • Water in a container

Vocabulary:

humus, decompose, topsoil, subsoil, bedrock

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Day 1: Engage the students by taking them outside to different places on the school grounds to see how soil is different and is made up of different material.
  2. Have students dig soil from under bushes, under trees, and on open ground and put the soil into large baggies.
  3. Allow students to examine the different materials that are in each soil sample to see that soil is a mixture and might have different purposes.
  4. Have students log in to their Grou.ps account (or VoiceThread, Google Docs, blog, wiki, or other online resource) and make a journal entry comparing the different soil samples.
  5. Divide students into groups to discuss and answer the following questions about one of the samples taken, and type their answer for submission:
    - What do you notice about the sample?
    - What do you think is in the soil?
    - How do you think the soil is formed?
    - What do you think causes the different colors?
  6. Day 2: Lead students in a discussion of the components of the soil samples from Day 1.
  7. Divide students into groups to try to locate common components in the different samples.
  8. While students are examining the samples, have students take turns logging in to BrainPOP Jr.com and watch the Soil video. Afterward, they should take the available quiz and submit the results to the teacher through grou.ps.com (or print them.)
  9. Provide books about soil that are appropriate for students' reading levels (such as those on Pearson Success), and have students complete the comprehension questions at the end of the book.
  10. Day 3: Discuss the process of soil formation with the class. and show the video "Getting to Know Soil" from United Streaming. While watching, have students notes on the different types of soil and the processes that produce it.
  11. Have students generate vocabulary cards in their science journals with their own definitions, pictures, and a sentence with select terms from the video.
  12. Day 4: Have the class conduct the experiment detailed at ThinkQuest. Students should relate their findings from the experiment on the Grou.ps forum or other online resource.
  13. Day 5: Have students type a paragraph based on the writing prompts found on Takscopes.com:
    - If you were able to play in a large pile of dirt, or soil, what kind would you like best? Write about handling different soils.
    - Write about why you can do certain things with sandy soil.
    - Describe what you might do if the soil contains lots of plant matter.
    - What if you added water to each of these soils?
  14. When students finish the writing, they can access BrainPOP Jr and complete the Soil Puzzle Game and the Draw About It activity.