Lesson 1: Soil

Day 2

Activity 3: Which Soils Hold Water?

Materials: Dirt by Steve Tomecek, clay soil (kit), measuring cup, measuring spoons, paper towel, potting soil (kit), sand (kit), science journal, scissors, sharp pencil, Styrofoam cup (kit)
First, ask your child to reread the book, Dirt.

Tell your child that he is going to experiment with which soil type holds the most water: clay soil, sand, or potting soil. Ask your child to record in his science journal his hypothesis about which one will hold the most water. Then let him record the amount of water that comes from the cup after pouring water over each type of soil. He can record the soil and the amount of water as seen below in his journal.
  • Sand _________tsp/cup of water
  • Potting Soil _______tsp/cup water
  • Clay soil ________ tsp/cup water
Walk him through the experiment as described.
  1. Let your child use a sharp pencil to punch three small holes in the bottom of a Styrofoam cup.
  2. Tell him to trace the bottom of the cup on a paper towel, cut out the circle from the paper towel, and put the circle in the bottom of the cup.
  3. Tell him to put 1/2 cup of sand in the cup and pour 1/2 cup of water over the sand. Let him use a bowl or measuring cup to catch the water that is filtered out of the bottom of the cup.
  4. Ask him to measure the water (using measuring spoons or cups depending on the amount of water that dripped out) once it stops dripping.
  5. He can repeat a second time with potting soil and a third time with clay soil.
  6. Ask him to record the conclusion of his experiment in his journal. Be sure that he records the units that he used to measure the water (for example, "Sand: 1/4 c." or "Potting Soil: 2 1/2 tsp.").
Ask your child the following questions once he has completed the experiment:
  • Which soil held the most water? (Remind your child that the one that holds the most water will leave the least water in the cup.)
  • Which soil held the least water?
  • Why did some soils hold more water than others?
  • How do plants affect the absorption of water on topsoil?

Activity 4: What's in the Soil?

Materials: Dirt by Steve Tomecek, colored pencils or markers
Ask your child to reread pages 14-17 in Dirt. In the picture on the "What's in the Soil?" page, your child can draw examples of organisms that live beneath the soil. Beneath the picture, he can write a paragraph that describes the importance of living things in the soil.
Student Activity Page

Activity 5: Life in a Bottle

Materials: Dirt by Steve Tomecek, 2-liter soda bottle, 6-inch square of thin cloth (kit), dirt, grass seed (kit), large rubber band (kit), spray bottle with water (kit)
Follow the directions on pages 30-31 of Dirt and encourage your child to create the soil ecosystem.

Activity 6: We Need Soil

Materials: colored pencils or markers, Science journal
Ask your child to list and illustrate in his journal three reasons that soil is important to people. Then let your child walk through the house and identify things that indirectly or directly came from the soil, such as wood furniture, fruits, vegetables, spices, and cotton clothing.

Ask your child to list three ways that people are dependent on soil (plants provide oxygen, plants that we eat grow in the soil and provide us with nutrients, trees grow in soil and provide us with wood).