Anatomy of Soil

The Abundant Garden: Growing Quality Kids Through Gardening by

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Anatomy of Soil: an activity for children of all ages. All dirt isn’t the same. In this activity, children will learn that there are a variety of layers of soil and all sorts of creatures that make dirt their home.

*This activity pairs well with Oreo Dirt Cake.

  • Supplies:
  • To learn more about soil, read the book Jump into Science: Dirt (ages 4-8) by Steve Tomecek (or another resource book about soil), review p. 12-13 in Farm Anatomy by Julia Rothman, and/or read this post by
  • Throughout the week, memorize Mark 4:8, “Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
  • Roll a handful of soil in between your fingers.
  • Examine it closely. What do you see? What do you feel? What do you smell? Were any creatures found?
  • Dig a hole about 12 inches down and feel another handful of soil. Again examine it closely. Is the soil different? The same? Were any new creatures found? Compare and contrast the soil.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Consider making the Oreo Dirt Cake (see the Oreo Dirt Cake activity).
  • After eating Oreo Dirt Cake (at parent’s discretion), draw the different layers of soil.
  • Discuss with your child about the differences in soil layers and about the different types/textures of soil that were previously examined. Record a younger child’s observations/explanations/dictations as needed.
  • Discuss the variety of creatures that live in the soil. List the creatures found on examination. Record a younger child’s observations as needed.
  • For an older child: Have them read the book Life in a Bucket of Soil (ages 8-14) by Alvin Silverstein to learn more about these critters.
  • For additional learning, discuss mineral nutrients in the soil. Why are these important? How are nutrients depleted? How are they added? What are the important nutrients in soil (see Farm Anatomy p. 14).
  • Have your child write down ways to add nutrients to depleted soil (mulch, compost, crop rotation…).
  • Feel free to add your memory verse, poems, recipes, or quotes about soil to your garden notebook/journal as well.
  • Place the page or pages in a protector when finished and include them in the garden notebook/journal.
  • Take pictures and tag #theabundantgarden on Instagram to share your fun and for an opportunity to be featured @theabundantgarden.

“A rainbow of soil is under our feet;
red as a barn and black as peat.
It’s yellow as lemon and white as the snow;
bluish gray. So many colors below.
Hidden in darkness as thick as the night;
The only rainbow that can form without light.
Dig you a pit, or bore you a hole,
you’ll find enough colors to well rest your soil.”
(Francis D. Hole (1913–2002), A Rainbow of Soil Words).