Sorting Out Soils

Students will build an understanding of the idea that all of our food relies on healthy soil (beyond fruits and vegetables, to bread, eggs, milk, honey, meat, etc). Students will compare soil samples and explore the different ingredients in soil by dissecting soil samples and doing a “soil shakedown.”

Concepts: Earth Materials | Soil

Essential Questions

  • How is healthy soil the source of all of our food?
  • How can we classify soils by their texture, color, and physical attributes?
  • What tools can we use to observe soils?
  • What are the components of soil?

Standards Addressed

  • SKE2b. Students will use their 5 senses to observe soils by physical attributes such as smell, texture, color, particle or grain size, etc.
  • SKE2c. Students will recognize earth materials: soil, rocks, water, air, etc.


SKE2. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to describe the physical attributes of earth materials (soil, rocks, water, and air).

  1. Ask questions to identify and describe earth materials: soil, rocks, water, and air, etc.
  2. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how rocks can be grouped by physical attributes (size, weight, texture, color).
  3. Use tools to observe and record physical attributes of soil such as texture and color.



Shaking Down the Soil


Exploring the Ingredients in Soil


Comparing Soils


Recognizing Soil as the Source

Recommended Resources


Children’s Literature

  • Jump into Science: Dirt by Steve Tomecek
  • Dirt: The Scoop on Soil by Natalie Rosinsky (Provided in Lesson Kit)
  • Soil Basics by Mari Schuh
  • Soil: A True Book by Christin Ditchfield
  • In the Garden with Dr. Carver by Susan Grigsby, 18-23 (Provided in Lesson Kit)