Soil Survey

The Abundant Garden: Growing Quality Kids Through Gardening by

Soil Survey: an activity for children of all ages. “To be a successful farmer one must first know the nature of the soil” (Xenophon). Soil is made up of a mixture of different materials. This experiment will separate those materials, helping a child to better see the separate components found in soil.

*This activity goes hand-in-hand with the soil percolation activity included in this lesson and was adapted from the experiment found in the book Soil by Christin Ditchfield and from the “How to do a soil survey” video noted below.

  • Supplies:
    • one cup soil
    • 3 tbsp non-sudsing detergent such as high efficiency laundry detergent or liquid dish-washing soap
    • a one quart see-through jar with a lid
    • water
    • marker
    • 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.
  • Add one cup of soil (without clumps) into your jar or until it is about 1/3 full.
  • Add the detergent to your jar.
  • Fill the jar with water until 2/3 full and put the lid on tightly.
  • Shake the jar for about 5-10 minutes.
  • Leave the jar in a safe place for 24 hours.
  • Look at the different layers in the jar. There should be sand and small rocks at the bottom of the jar since these are the heaviest ingredients. Next will be the silt and at the top should be the clay particles.
  • Have your child take a marker and mark the bands of soil particles.
  • Based on the bands of the particles estimate the percentage of sand, clay, and silt in your soil. Then use this Soil Texture Triangle to determine your soil type. Knowing your soil type will help you determine how much to water and how to amend your soil to make it better for your garden.
  • Have your child draw a soil texture triangle and label each of the different amounts of  sand, clay and silt that make up your soil.
  • 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.

The Abundant Garden: Growing Quality Kids Through Gardening by

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