Target Grade Level / Age Range:

Kindergarten - 2 nd grade


30 minutes


The students will be able to determine similarities and differences between two types of soil and information presented in two nonfiction texts. The students will be able to use the scientific process to observe, question, and form a hypothesis on why the two soil types are different.


  • Samples of two different types of soil (clay and silt would work well)
  • Water
  • Cylinders
  • Notebook paper for observations

Suggested Companion Resources:

  • A True Book: Soil by Christin Ditchfield
  • Soil Basics by Mari Schuh


  • Soil: plants are planted in soil, found in a field.
  • No Till: narrow seed bed in which the soil is left basically undisturbed or tilled from planting to harvest.
  • Conventionally Tilled: field where the soil has been tilled.

Background – Agricultural Connections:

Soil is an important part of agriculture. Without it, crops would not have the nutrients they need to grow and prosper, and livestock would not have the plants and grains they need to eat. Part of a farmer’s job is taking care of the land they raise crops and livestock on.

There are many different soil types. Some soils are clay, and they’re dense and hold water quite well. Other soils are sandy, with large soil particles and poor water holding capacity (good drainage). Each soil type looks different. Most clay soils are dark, sometimes red, and clump together well. Sandy soils are lighter colored, and you can see the soil particles. Most soil is a combination of sand, silt and clay.

Soil is important for plants because it provides the nutrients they need. Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus are essential nutrients, needed by every plant for proper photosynthesis and other plant processes. Without the soil to hold these nutrients, plants could not grow and prosper.

The soil also holds other materials. Worms live in soil and help break organic matter and pull seeds below the soil surface. Organic matter is usually dead plants and insects that are decomposing and provide some of the nutrients in the soil.

Interest Approach or Motivator:

Ask students if they’ve ever heard of a soil scientist. Do they have any idea of what a soil scientist does? Instruct students to take out their notebooks and draw 2 boxes.


  1. The students will listen to the read-aloud nonfiction books. They will use this as background information for the science portion of this lesson.
  2. The teacher will remind students of how to make observations. They may write or draw pictures after examining the two types of soil.
  3. Present the two soil samples to students. Allow students to use their senses to examine the soil and record their observations. They should look at it, feel it, smell it, etc.
  4. The students will take 7 minutes to record observations.
  5. The students will be asked to compare and contrast while recording observations and questions they may have.
  6. Place the soil in the cylinders and slowly pour water over the samples. Allow the students to watch the soil and the water and record their observations.
  7. Students should create a Venn diagram or other form of graphic comparison for the two soils. What is similar and what is different?
  8. Have the class discuss the importance of soil.
    1. Why is soil important to plants?
    2. Why does the soil type matter to a farmer?
    3. Would soil A or soil B be better for growing corn?

Extension Activities:

  • Do a similar comparison with clay soil and sand.
  • Have students create a “soil journal” where they must find a soil each day for a week that has a different/new characteristic than the one they found the day before.         


Jessica Sandbothe

Kelsey Faivre, IALF

National Agriculture Literacy Outcomes:

  • Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber & Energy Outcomes
    • Identify the importance of natural resources (e.g., sun, soil, water, minerals) in farming
  • Agriculture & the Environment Outcomes
    • Describe how farmers/ranchers use land to grow crops and support livestock
    • Describe the importance of soil and water in raising crops and livestock
    • Identify natural resources

Iowa Core Standards:

  • Language Arts:
    • RI.2.9 Compare and contrast the most important points presented by two texts on the same topic.
  • Iowa Core Science Standards:
    • K-ESS2-2. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how plants and animals (including humans) can change the environment to meet their needs.
    • K-ESS3-3. Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air, and/or other living things in the local environment.*
    • 2-PS1-1. Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.
    • 2-ESS2-1. Compare multiple solutions designed to slow or prevent wind or water from changing the shape of the land.*

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