Earth Materials

3 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT to identify the characteristics of the four types of soil components; clay, sand, humus, and gravel.

Big Idea

Each soil component can be classified by its physical characteristics.

Warm Up

10 minutes

In today's lab, students will be asked to observe the four soil components present in their stream tables and to record their observations. I begin the lesson by guiding students to create a earth materials graphic organizer for use in the lab. A video describing how and why I create this graphic organizer can be found here.

To help students successfully create a graphic organizer, I show my lab worksheet on the document camera and model each step in the creation process. This allows me to address student questions as they arise and to model effective work habits.

Student-Conducted Lab

40 minutes

In today's lab, students will examine the four soil components;  gravel, sand, clay, and humus. I begin the lab by displaying the earth materials lab worksheet on the document camera. I review the procedures for the day's lab with the students.  The students examine each soil component with a hand lens and then add the soil component to a cup of water. Because the soil components affect the cup of water differently, it is very important that the students do all the steps of the lab in the order on their lab worksheet. A sample of a student's completed work can be found here.


10 minutes

To conclude the lesson, I create a class post-it note chart. I ask students to record one observation for each soil component on a sticky note. I then ask students to place all observations for like soil components on a class chart. By using sticky notes for this chart, the students can modify or adjust their observational responses in an efficient and clear manner. It also allows students to practice thinking and performing like scientists where trial and error and making changes to responses based off of observation, is commonplace. This sticky note chart further serves my instructional needs by allowing me to quickly capture the thinking of all students. Using this strategy also creates an anchor chart, which I can display throughout the unit to highlight key features of the soil components.