Soil contains important nutrients for both plant and animal survival. Plants rely on soil for growth, while some animals, including humans, rely on plants for food. In addition, soil can provide shelter for animals. Soil contains living and nonliving things, and not all soil is alike. It is important for children to learn why soil it important and the ways in which humans benefit from soil.
The Virginia Standards of Learning for Science has students learning about soil in 3rd grade. However, students may have had prior exposure to the topic from lessons on the earth's resources. This post contains helpful information and resources for teaching soil at grade 3.
A Handful of Dirt. By Raymond Bial. 2000. 32p. Walker Childrens, (9780891188483). Gr. 2-5.
This book gives students the opportunity to go on a down-and-dirty tour of one of earth's most valuable resources.
Dirt: The Scoop on Soil. By Natalie M. Rosinsky. Illus. by Sheree Williams. 2002. 24p. Picture Window Books, (9781404803312). Gr. 1-3.
Dig deep into this book about soil and discover the fascinating world beneath your feet. The book begins with a short and engaging soil experiment, and the detailed illustrations capture the attention of young readers.
Jump into Science: Dirt. By Steve Tomecek. Illus. by Nancy Woodman. 2007. 32p. National Geographic Children's Books, (9781426300899). Gr. 1-3.
What is soil? Who lives in soil? How does soil help things grow? Answers and more are within this fun, fact-filled picture book. Follow the mole, and dig in!
Soil. By Sally M. Walker. 2007. 48p. Lerner Classroom, (9780822566229). Gr. 1-3.
This book introduces young readers to the concept of soil, how soil forms, what soil looks like, and how to take care of soil. The book includes a glossary of important soil-related words.
SOIL! Get the Inside Scoop. By David L. Lindbo. 2008. 36p. American Society of Agronomy, (9780891188483). Gr. 3-6.
This colorful book explores the many ways that soil is a part of our everyday life-its effects on the food we eat, the air we breathe, the house we live in, etc. Get young learners excited about soil with this fun and colorful book.
This activity is helpful in demonstrating the meaning and differences of silt, sand, clay, and humus.
Soil Facts for Kids
Slither your way through these soiled questions. S.K. Worm, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, answers students' frequently asked questions about soil.
Hop in the EarthShip and take a journey of the world beneath your feet on this soil safari. On this soil safari, you will encounter different creatures in their native habitat.
This site for teachers provides various activity ideas, activity sheets, and downloads all related to soil. Downloads include a virtual soil tour and hundreds of environmental images.
Virginia Science Standards of Learning
3.7 The student will investigate and understand the major components of soil, its origin, and important to plants and animals including humans. Key concepts include
a) soil provides support and nutrients necessary for plant growth;
b) topsoil is a natural product of subsoil and bedrock
c) rock, clay, silt, sand, and humus are components of soil; and
d) soil is a natural resource and should be conserved
Background Information from Curriculum Framework
- Soil provides support and nutrients necessary for plant growth.
- Over many years, weather, water, and living things help break down rocks to create soil. This process is called weathering.
- Rock, clay, silt, sand, and humus are all components of soil.
- Topsoil is the upper layer of soil and is a product of subsoil and bedrock.
- Subsoil and bedrock are layers below topsoil that are formed over a long period of time.
- Humus is decayed matter in soil located in the topsoil.
- Clay holds water and provides nutrients
- Sand is made of of small grains of worn-down rock.
- Silt is made up of small broken pieces of rock.