Soil Percolation

The Abundant Garden: Growing Quality Kids Through Gardening by

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Soil Percolation: an activity for children of all ages. This is a great activity to be able to test the ability of your soil to drain water. Plants differ in the soil they prefer which is why it’s important to know what’s going on in your soil.

*This activity was adapted from the book Gardening Lab for Kids, lab number 8.

    • Supplies:
      • clothes that can get dirty
      • rain or gardening boots
      • gardening gloves
      • shovel
      • hose, a bucket or watering can full of water
      • 12 inch ruler
      • watch/timer
      • gardening notebook/journal
      • paper (if using a binder) – copy paper, cardstock and/or 140 lb weight paper if using watercolors
      • pencil and eraser
      • art medium of choice (colored pencils, watercolors, crayons, or markers)
      • page protectors
    • Watch the following video prior to doing this activity. The percolation portion is about half way through the video.

  • Dig a hole about one foot deep by one foot wide.
  • Fill the hole with water and let it completely drain out.
  • Place the ruler in the hole and fill it with water again. For an older child: have them take note of the measurement on the ruler and start the timer. Document the water level every minute in your garden notebook/journal.
  • Once the hole is completely drained, note the time.
    • 0-10 minutes is fast-draining soil (good place to plant herbs in sunlight and/or trees).
    • 11-60 minutes is well-draining soil (Ideal for most plants).
    • over 60  minutes is slow-draining soil which may contain a lot of clay and may need amending with gypsum (calcium sulfate), a layer of topsoil, and/or compost.
  • Discuss the type of soil you have with your child and the types of plants they think would grow well in that area. Record a younger child’s explanations/dictations as needed in the gardening notebook/journal.
  • For an older child: Have your child document the date, your soil type, and any amendments that may need to be made.
  • 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.