Lesson plan

We've Got the Dirt!

Help your students learn about earth with this lesson that teaches them about the most basic component-dirt!
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Grade Subject

Students will be able to identify and describe the different types of soil.

(10 minutes)
  • Explain to students that today they will be learning about the different types of soil.
  • Give each student a copy of the first page of the Types of Soil worksheet.
  • Read aloud, or have volunteers read aloud, the worksheet, pausing after each type to discuss.
  • On the board or a piece of chart paper, make a graph with 3 rows labeled 1, 2, and 3 and 3 columns labeled "Particle Size?", "Feels?", and "Dries?"
  • Divide students into pairs or small groups.
(10 minutes)
  • Explain that the groups will be observing the 3 soil samples for particle size, texture, and how it holds water.
  • Demonstrate using the hand lens, model observing particle size of a given sample.
  • Explain the difference between clumps and particles, and model breaking a clump down into particles.
  • Demonstrate rubbing a small amount of soil between your thumb and forefinger and describe what the students might feel using vocabulary from the worksheet.
  • Demonstrate dropping one small drop of water into the soil sample and observe with the hand lens.
  • Describe the changes to the soil and how quickly the water absorbs, runs off, or dries.
(20 minutes)
  • Give each group a paper plate and have one of the students divide it into thirds and number each section.
  • Give each group a dropper, water and a hand lens.
  • Give each group a cup with the first kind of soil, sand, in it. Do not tell them what type of soil is in the cup.
  • Have each student examine the sample with the hand lens, breaking up clumps with the tooth pick.
  • Discuss the students' observations and record them on the chart.
  • Have the students rub the soil between their fingers and record their observations on the chart.
  • Have the students drop one drop of water onto the sample and observe it with the hand lens.
  • Record their observations on the chart.
  • Repeat this procedure with the other 2 samples.
(10 minutes)
  • Have the students put their materials away or to the side.
  • Ask each group to participate in a conversation to discuss the observations recorded on the chart and to compare them to the information in the worksheet.
  • Have the groups decide which type of soil is in each numbered cup.
  • During their conversation, encourage students to build on each other's comments or link their comments. Provide some of the following sentence frames:
    • "I agree with ____ because..."
    • "I disagree with ____ because..."
    • "What you said made me think about...."
  • Model using the sentence frames in each group during their conversations as you circulate the room.
  • Allow each group member to share their ideas.
  • Ask a spokesperson or volunteer from each group to tell the class the name of each sample and to explain how the group came to that conclusion.
  • Enrichment: Rather than a teacher created chart, let advanced learners create their own record keeping document. Have them repeat this activity with soil samples collected at home or at school.
  • Support: Place struggling students in a group with an adult or strong peer leader. Divide the sample observations into 3 separate, shorter activities.
(5 minutes)
  • Complete the second page of the Types of Soil worksheet.
(5 minutes)
  • Have students tell each other in their groups the descriptions of the types of soil.
  • Encourage students to build onto each other's comments as each student shares aloud to the whole class.

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