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Soil: Teachers

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Soil Essentials

Review soil basics with the Soil Science Society of America

Deepen your knowledge of soils with Soils 101 from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS.)

This overview of soils for educators includes information about the role of soils, the properties of soil, and soil horizons.

With photographs, diagrams, and a helpful glossary, this introduction to soils describes their unique characteristics and diversity, the ecosystem services that soils provide, and their use and misuse.

PBS Learning Media

All resources from PBS Learning Media contain teacher support materials including videos, background reading, discussion questions, teaching tips, hands-on activities, student handouts, and more. Several of these have fully developed lessons plans and investigations that can be easily adapted for different grade levels. You’ll want to check these out!

Dirt Pile

The Nature Conservancy’s Nature Lab, in connection with PBS Learning Media, has created a series of complete soil lesson plans, including hands-on activities, for grades 4-8.

Soil Resources for Teachers

Soil4Teachers is a terrific resource for all science educators, full of lessons and activities for soil studies at all grade levels. Soils4Kids is a companion site for students, with many features you can use in the classroom. You’ll find soil songs, soil games, experiments, art projects, and a Sammy Soil coloring storybook.

Dr. Dirt offers a wealth of K-12 teaching resources for your soil unit. Make some layered dirt pudding, soil crayons, or dirt t-shirts!

National Geographic’s Resource Library for Educators features articles and activities for classroom use. Do We Treat Our Soil Like Dirt? has text leveled for grades 3-12. Students in grades 4-6 can learn more about Soil Composition, Humus, Underground Burrows and Weathering, while investigations Soil Quality and Preserving Soils are designed for middle-school classes.

Soil

Students can learn about possible careers in soil science at the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Then check out interesting scientist profiles at the Soil Science Society of America or soil explorers from the Smithsonian Institute.

The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center has a soil site that includes a “root words” worksheet, a state soil interactive, and a section on professional soil explorers. A terrific interactive for students called The Big Picture explores the effects of soil on distant ecosystems around the world.

USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service has soil education resources for educators, including a powerpoint presentation, soil facts, state soils, lesson plans, experiments and a question-and-answer feature with S.K. Worm.

Earth’s Solid Membrane:Soil from Annenberg Learner is specifically designed for K-8 teachers to assist you in teaching children about soils.

Visit Let’s Talk Science or Easy Science for Kids for facts and videos about Healthy Soil and Soil Basics.

These soil worksheets for classroom use include soil types, formation, uses, and more.

Targeted videos can be useful in your classroom study of soil. You may want to take a look at the following:

Lesson Plans and More

Agriculture in the Classroom has a collection of fully developed soil lesson plans that are ready for you to use with students. All lessons include hands-on investigations, student handouts and companion resources. Here are a few you may like to try:

Healthy Soil

Dirt: Secrets in the Soil is a complete teaching unit using the above Agriculture in the Classroom lesson plans, powerpoints, videos and investigations. (pdf version)

The Utah Education Network has a series of detailed soil lesson plans designed for 4th grade but easily adaptable for other grade levels. Take a look at The Dirt on Soil, A Recipe For Soil, Soil Ingredients, S-O-I-L Soil and What’s in the Dirt?

Soil! Get The Inside Scoop is a series of lessons plans for grades 4-6 developed by the Soil Science Society of America. Each lesson contains a powerpoint presentation, activities, links and study questions.

Underground Adventures, from the Field Museum in Chicago, is an inquiry-based soil education unit that invites students to research soil ecosystems in their own neighborhoods. Students will establish a field site, keep a field journal, measure and record data, and study the relationship between the soil’s physical properties, environmental and human factors, and soil biodiversity. You can also take a virtual tour of the museum’s soil exhibit.

The National Science Teaching Association has compiled soil lessons and investigations for all grade levels.

It can be eye-opening for students to study soils around the world. Help them discover more about soil diversity with these lesson about tropical soils, desert soils, and prairie soils.

Take a look at this collection of soil lesson plans from Baylor University: Observing Soils (1st grade,) Formation of Soil (3rd grade,) and Physical Properties of Soil (4th grade.)

Soil Experiments and Demonstrations

Your students will enjoy these 14 hands-on projects and soil experiments from Soil4Kids.

Jars

Celebrate soils in your classroom with these six hands-on investigations developed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in connection with World Soil Day.

From soil scientist Dr. Dirt, take a look at Soil is A Filter, the Sponge Model of Soil, or Soil Erosion Simulation.

These five simple experiments from How Stuff Works will help kids discover soil properties through active participation.

Younger students observe the composition of soil and describe their findings in Dirt Detectives from PBS Kids or The Dirt on Soil from Kids Discover.

Erosion and Soil is a great classroom demonstration of the power of water on soil that encourages children to think like scientists and make hypotheses based on observation.

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