3 Ways To Make Learning Dirt Fun!

Can you imagine what it is like to sit in a room and learn about dirt? Sounds boring, right? That is what I was doing to my 7th graders my first two years of teaching. The crazy thing is there was dirt right outside my classroom, just waiting to be explored! I am going to tell you three ways I took learning soil out of the classroom, and made it FUN!

1. Soil Profile

My first year teaching we studied soil profile with classroom visuals (yawn). My second year we made edible layers. Fun, BUT by the end everyone had consumed so much sugar that we had no clue we were even at school. This year, I finally nailed it! The students first learned the layers in the classroom with me. Then I gave them a handout that included an overview of the layers, and what each layer contains. The students were sent outside to create their own soil profile. They had to gather items outside that could represent each layer, and create a soil profile in their clear cup. In the images you can see the worksheet they were given, and a completed model. The soil layer sheet can be found here

2. Particle Size
Normally, it would be way to hard to measure a particle of gravel, sand, silt, and clay. However, it would not be hard to have three items represent those particles to measure and organize. For this lab, I picked three abundant classroom items. Then I had the students measure each item, and determine which one represented each particle. 

Tennis Ball = Gravel
Small Bead = Clay

The great thing about these items is they were small enough to throw in the lab buckets and complete outside with the other lab! (you can see my lab bucket in the image in part 3)

3. Permeability 

For this one you need the following items: 
Two Graduated cylinders
Two funnels
Clay (Play-Doh)
Beaker with 100 mL of water

To set up this lab, place a funnel in each graduated cylinder. Then, put the gravel in one funnel and the play-doh in the other. You can manipulate the contents how you want for the students to meet the objectives. The clay and gravel need to be placed in the best way for the students to be able to see the rate of drainage. Last, the students pour 50mL on top of each type of soil to investigate permeability. 

This lab was fun, engaging, and outside where ecology learning should be. The students really enjoyed, and learned from, this activity. The link to this lab is on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store as Soil Properties Lab or Stations

Happy Teaching! 


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