In these lessons students will learn that soil is home to billions of organisms that play vital roles in decomposition and ecosystem health. Students will use their senses to discover qualities of different soil types and understand what they provide for plants in terms of food, water, and shelter. They will then practice setting up an experiment to test which mixture of soils help support plant growth best!


Lesson Grades Resources Standards
Soil Life 2-3 Discussion, Activity NGSS 2-LS4-1 
NGSS 3-LS4-3 
Soil and Water 3-5 Discussion, Activity, Experiment NGSS 3-LS4-4 
NGSS 5-ESS2-1 
NGSS 3-5-ETS1-2 
NGSS 4-LS1-1 
Soil Mixture Experiment 4-5 Discussion, Activity
NGSS 5-PS1-3 
NGSS 5-PS1-4 
Extension Activities 2-5 Links  


Connecting CCCs and SEPs

  • How is soil created? What explains how rocks, branches, leaves, sand, and other natural materials develop into soil? (Cause and Effect; Construct Explanations and Design Solutions).
  • What can you observe to see how soil structure affects plant growth? What can you measure as evidence to compare the effect of different soil compositions on plant health? (Structure and Function; Planning and Carrying out Investigations; Engage in Argument from Evidence)
  • What does the data tell us about how changes to the overall structure of your soils, or in other words soil composition, affect the function of plant growth and health? How can you best communicate about this relationship between soil composition and food, water, and shelter for plants? (Structure and Function; Analyzing and Interpreting Data; Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information)
  • Can I communicate how the nutrients humans and other animals need to function originate from the soil? How does calcium from the soil become ingested by humans? (Energy and Matter; Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information)


Thank you One Cool Earth!

The lessons and resources for this topic have been adapted from the Earth Genius curriculum developed by One Cool Earth, a California 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to bringing garden education to students.

What’s next?