Let's Soil It

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SWBAT describe what soil is made of.

Big Idea

Describe what things make up soil.

Setting the Stage

National Science Teaching Standards

Earth Science

  • Types of resources

Resources are things that we get from living and nonliving things to meet our needs such as: rocks, soils, water, and air.  This lesson focuses on students learning about soil. This lesson is essential because students learn how to describe what things make up soil and what is inside soil. It is imperative that students learn that soil is a non-living thing that is made up of tiny rock and bits of dead plants and animals. Soil can have different colors and texture. Also, this lesson helps to support 2nd grade Tennessee Standards.

Science and Engineering Practice: 

SP 3 addresses planning and carrying out an investigation. In 2nd grade, students can plan and conduct an investigation with their peer to answer a question or questions.


SP 8 addresses obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in K–2. Students communicate information with others in oral and written forms to discuss scientific ideas.  In this lesson, groups communicate with each other about their observation about the various kinds of soils.

Prior Knowledge:

Students understand Earth resources. They know that Earth resources are air, water, plants, animals, soil, and rocks. They know that these things are living and non-living things that are a part of Earth. Students know that plants can grow in soil and it provides the plant with nutrient.

Junior Scientists:

In my class, my students are called Junior Scientists. They wear lab jackets that they created early in the school year during their experiments. I call them scientists to empower them to major in science and math related careers. I want them to discover a love for science and math. Also, we sing "It is Science Time" before each lesson. 


Here is a website about soil. Also, your class can contact a soil scientist to ask questions about soil.


  • strainer
  • soil
  • 4 plates per group


10 minutes

"I Can" Statement"

I call on a student to read the "I Can" statement- " I can explain what is inside soil."  Then I invite all the students to read the "I Can" statement together. Then the students say today we will work hard to make Dr. Collins proud. The "I Can" statement empowers students to be successful with the lesson.

As a class, we complete a K-W-H-L chart about soil.  I asked the groups to complete the K section.  I pose the question: What do you know about soil?. The groups share out so I can record their responses on the class K-W-H-L chart. Then I have the students tell what they want to learn about soil in the "W" section. The groups are invited to complete the "H" section. I inform them to tell me how they what to learn about soil. The groups share their responses. The K-W-H-L chart helps me to access students prior knowledge, and it helps to guide my instructions.

Here is a group completed the K-W-H-L chart,video.



20 minutes

At the students' desk, they are informed that they will conduct an  investigation- "What is inside soil?"  Students collaborate in groups.  I tell the students the leader and they decide  the manger, reporter, and recorder. I have assigned the leader which is an advanced student.  The students will be provided their group labels and clothes pins to attach the labels to their jackets. The labels are color coded such as: red, orange, green, and blue. The students are encouraged to wear the labels so I know their roles and the color of their group. The lab sheet, soil, strainer, and hand lens are at the table, too.

I lead groups through the scientific investigation.

Groups are at the table, they have soil, soil, strainer, and hand lens. I ask them: What questions do they have about the items? I inform them to record their questions on the lab sheet. I tell them to write at least 2 questions.

I remind them to look at the question stem poster located in my room.  The chart is displayed to help students with developing questions. They record their responses on their lab sheets. Some groups are permitted to share their questions, so other groups can hear their peers' responses.

Also, I discuss the following safety rules with the students- 1. Think Ahead  2. Be neat. 3. Be careful. 4. Do not place soil in your mouth. 5. Wash your hands after handing the soil due to soil can contain germs. The rules are discussed to make sure that they understand a sense of what is and not appropriate during their investigation. 

Students are posed with the question: "What is inside soil?" I inform the groups to make a prediction and record it on their lab sheet.

I walk around to provide an example how to write the hypothesis.  I give the students 3 minutes to write their hypothesis.  They are timed so students can stay focused on completing their task. They tend to take too long if they are not timed.

Groups are encouraged to put some soil in a strainer and shake the soil over into the plate.  Then they are to use a hand lens to observe the soil in the plate. They should record what they see. They students are encourage to observe because scientists make observations to record their results.

Then groups should pour the soil from the strainer to another plate and observe and record what they see. Observe a group of students, What is inside soil-video

What is inside soil-Picture

To explore more, I give groups some new soil. They do the same procedures as they did with the first soil. Groups are encouraged to use the graphic organizer on their lab sheet to compare the two soils.









10 minutes

Each group is given an opportunity to share their findings to the class.  Students should share what they observe in the soil such as: weeds, bugs, seeds, and so forth. Students need to understand that soil is non-living, but it contains tiny bits of dead animals and plants. Soil helps plants grow. My goal of the lesson was to help students understand how soil is formed and used. It is important that students share what they know by telling or showing others to make it relevant for students. This permits them to work on the science process skill, communicate.

What is inside soil-Lab Sheet-Student Work

Science Journal

At the students' desks, I provide them with their science journal. The students answer these questions in their journal: What is inside soil? This is done to check each students understanding about soil. Also, it  helps me reflect over my next soil lessons or identify modifications that need to made.

Let's Soil It-Student Work (Science Journal)

After the students finish learning about soil, they completed the K-W-H-L Chart. The chart permitted me to assess students' learning. Soil K-W-H-L Chart