Investigating soil

Investigating Soil?

Todays learning: (WALT)


  • setting up simple practical enquiries
  • gathering, recording, and presenting data in a variety of ways to help in answering questions
  • recording findings using simple scientific language, drawings, labelled diagrams,
  • reporting on findings from enquiries, including oral and written explanations, displays or presentations of results and conclusions
  • recognise that soils are made from rocks and organic matter.


Lesson Activities / Tasks

  • Lesson Activities
    • Watch video - dialog below
    • Carry out own soil sample mixing as seen in video this can be done by teacher or ideally as whole class activity.
    • Allow sample time to settle - pupils could write out method of investigation while soil settles
    • Draw diagram of soil sample
    • Measure Layers of soil and produce a pie chart of results
    • Complete relevant section of pupil work book


    • Do quiz for first section answers…

Video Dialog

  • After the pooh is spread in fields the farmer mixes it in to the soil along with any remains of the previous crop often by ploughing
  • This material - poo and previous crop plant material is called organic matter which simple means stuff that came from something that was once alive.
  • What do you think then happens to this organic matter.
  • To answer this you need to know a little bit about soil.
  • What is soil made from? Does anything live in soil?
  • Lets make mud pies to see what soil is made of.....
  • No not the mud pies you made when you played out......
  • But 'scientific' mud pies! Oops but not with best kitchen spoons!!!!
  • Once the 'mud pie' has settled you get this - the bits or particles of soil have settled into different layers.
  • The biggest or heaviest particles sink first so settle on the bottom of the pot.
  • These are sand particles.
  • The top layer is made up of the smallest particles
  • The are clay particles
  • The particles in between are called loam
  • Then on the top or even still floating are very small pieces of organic matter - dead plant and animal material as we said.
  • If we look at some of these soil particles under a microscope this is what we see.
  • What does it remind you off?
  • Do you think they look like stones or rocks?
  • Well that is exactly what they are small pieces which have been broken of rocks by rain, wind, ice, plants growing on them, and lots of other ways.
  • This is called erosion and just means breaking down.
  • So now we have 1 ingredient of soil - broken or eroded rocks
  • How much of the different size particles a soil contains decides what type of soil it is sandy, loamy or clay soil
  • Settled on the top layer or floating in the water is the second ingredient of soil- organic matter
  • So when he mixes poo with the soil in his fields the farmer is really helping to make more soil
  • The organic matter is also broken down in small pieces by the animals, minibeasts and micro-organisms which live in the soil.
  • Creatures such as earthworms, centipedes and woodlice.
  • This type of breaking down is called decay and it happens to all living things when they die.
  • When organic matter decays it releases food or nutrients into the soil which is important for plants - more later
  • This process of erosion and decay is a very slow process and take thousands or even millions of years.
  • So we must look after the soil we have got as it takes a very long time to make new soil.
  • Don't think of soil as 'mud for pies' but more and ingredient of life on earth in which plants grow and animals live.
  • So when farmers spread poo on their fields they are adding an important ingredient of 'new' soil and also nutrients.


  • VIDEO 'Investigating Soil?'
  • PUPIL WORKBOOK: 'Following poo...'

Outcomes: (WILF)

  • To state that soils is made up of different sized particles and decay organic matter
  • To produce diagram and pie chart of soil sample results.

Teaching notes:


Last modified: Wednesday, 19 February 2014, 7:57 PM