Material Type:
Activity/Lab, Demonstration
Upper Primary
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  • ncdls
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    Audio, Graphics/Photos, Video

    Education Standards

    3rd Grade Soil Unit (Remix)


    This resource is a 4 day, 3rd grade unit on Soil and Plants.

    This resource has been enhanced with a section of resources including activities and digital learning opportunities.

    This lesson has been enhanced with hands-on activities and technology resources regarding the subject area.

    Day 1:

    Essential questions: 

    • Why is soil important?

    • Why do environmental conditions impact plant life?

    • How does a plant function as a system?

    Have students split into groups and give them a verse to memorize of the plant song. The students will practice their verse by using the song "the weeks on the bus." Then invite students to sit in groups on the carpet. Students will go one group at a time sharing their verse. The class will sing along with that group and their verse the second time. continue this cycle until you make it through all the verses/groups.


    The roots on a plant are underground,
    Underground, underground.
    The roots on a plant are underground.
    Roots are part of a plant.

    The stem on a plant holds up the leaves,
    Up the leaves, up the leaves.
    The stem on a plant holds up the leaves.
    Stems are part of a plant.

    The leaves on a plant are making food,
    Making food, making food.
    The leaves on a plant are making food.
    Leaves are part of plant.

    The flowers on a plant are growing seeds,
    Growing seeds, growing seeds.
    The flowers on a plant are growing seeds.
    Flowers are part of a plant.

    Day 2:

    Read the book "Studying Soil" on Epic Books.



    Before reading have students fill out a KWL chart on soil. Have students bring a sticky note written with one K "Know" they have about soil. Share several student responses with the class. Next have students bring one sticky note written with a W "want to know." Ask students what the properties of sand, clay, and humus are as they read the book along with you. 


    At the end of the book show students that you have planted the following: 

    As a class, prepare three containers:

    One container of humus. One container of sand. One container of clay.

    Plant the rye seeds and water.

    Class will observe together. (Observe for two weeks.)

    Day 3:

    Before you teach this lesson the teacher needs to get a soil sample from the playground (do this at recess the day before.)


    Students work in teams to observe soil samples.

    Students will fill out “Looking at Soil” chart as they work together in table groups. (Each student will be responsible for their own writing.)


    Place a soil sample at each table and divide students into teams. Have students use their 5 senses (except taste) to observe the samples. Have students fill out their responses on the given pdf sheet.

    Day 4

    Students will work in pairs to make an art wordle on the iPads. Students will brainstorm a circle map given the topic clay, sand, or humus. Students will write down as many descriptive words as possible describing their type of soil. Once they are done, they will type their descriptive words into wordle. Make sure to tell students to type their given topic (clay, sand, or humas) at least 8 times to make it large font on their final product.


    Resources for 3rd Grade Soil Unit

    General Soils

    General Soils - Grades K-4

    Soil composition activity and lesson. Discusses mineral and organic components of soil.

    Ask the Answer Worm – USDA-NRCS K-12 Lessons S.K.Worm, the official worm of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, answers students' questions about soil. Basic information about soils with cartoon pictures.

    Types by Texture – Utah AITC Dirt: Secrets in the Soil Soil texture (sand, silt, and clay) activities and lesson. Requires sand, silt, and clay samples and soil samples from home.

    Soil Crayons – USDA-NRCS K-12 Lessons Instructions for how to make crayons from soil and wax. This activity provides and appreciation for the variety of soil colors. (Note: To get soils of different colors it is often necessary to dig below the topsoil in several locations.)

    Painting with Soil – USDA-NRCS K-12 Lessons Instructions for how to make paints of wondrous colors using soil. (Note: To get soils of different colors it is often necessary to dig below the topsoil in several locations.)

    The Soil Chain – Utah AITC Dirt: Secrets in the Soil Lesson about the importance of soil as a natural resource.

    Down and Dirty – Discovery School The Dirt on Soil Soil definitions, terms, and concepts presented well for upper elementary and middle school students.

    Perkin' Through the Pores – Utah AITC Dirt: Secrets in the Soil Lessons and activities about how different soils let water move through them and hold onto water differently. (PDF)

    Soil is a Filter – Dr. Dirt's K-12 Teaching Resources and Activities Hands-on activity using soil and Kool-aid type drink to demonstrate how soils filter impurities from water. Teaches how soil is important for clean water.

    Songs about Soil – USDA-NRCS K-12 Do you like to sing? Well, some soil scientists (young and old) do. Read the lyrics and sing them aloud.

    Just for Kids: Soil Biological Communities – BLM-NSTC THE soil biology resource site for elementary teachers. Many many resources, lessons, and hands-on activities about soils and organisms. (Too many to list here...go look.)

    Soil Safari – Discovery School The Dirt on Soil A fun, interactive, microscopic computer safari through the soil. (Can be downloaded onto a desktop.) Also click on "Field Guide" for pictures and more information on organisms encountered in virtual and real soil. (Upper elementary and middle school.)

    Underground Adventure – The (Chicago) Field Museum A virtual tour of the Chicago Field Museum soil exhibit. Also on-line information and activities about soils and soil organisms.

    Secrets to Healthy Soils – Utah AITC Dirt: Secrets in the Soil Students examine soil organisms extracted from different fresh soil samples. Samples are extracted overnight by heat lamp and screen. All directions for set-up and types of organisms included.

    The Rotten Truth – Utah AITC Dirt: Secrets in the Soil Activity in which students demonstrate and learn about decomposition with and without soil. Also has lesson on methods of composting.

    Collecting Bugs from the Soil - An SSSA Activity - learn about the incredibly diverse invertebrate community found in soil.

    Soils and Plant Growth - Grades K-4


    Soil Sam – Illinois AITC Students make a "Soil Sam" with a baby food jar to hold the soil and grass seeds planted to grow "hair". Includes suggested additions to learn about fertilizers.

    Third Grade Science: SOL 3.7 Soil : teacher resources ...

    Third Grade Science: SOL 3.7 Soil : teacher resources, Virginia resources, links, worksheets, printables - SOL Teacher Store. Virginia SOL Resources : Games and links for teachers K - 5 : Teacher Worksheets ‎ > ‎ Third Grade : Virginia SOL Resources: Virginia Standards: Teaching Resources: Worksheets, Printables, Games ‎ > ‎ 3rd Grade: Virginia Science

    1. Soil Lesson Plans and Lesson Ideas | BrainPOP Educators

      This animated science resource page with lesson plans and teaching tips, for Kindergarten to 3rd grade students shows how soil decomposes and discusses topsoil, subsoil, bedrock, and humus.

    2. 59 Best 3rd Grade-Sci-soil images | Grade 3 science ...

      Science Vocabulary Third Grade Science Vocabulary Cards Science Resources Science Lessons Science Activities Teacher Resources Classroom Fun Science Classroom. Classify soil types based …

      • 59 pins


    3. Soil - Third Grade Science

      Soil Jeopardy In this activity, students play against a partner to see how many soil facts they can remember or know. While the game is not actually jeopardy, it is very similar to the original game. Soil Webquest In this interactive website, students can review the purpose of soil as well as the different components that combine to make soil.

    4. Soil for 3rd or 4th graders. (Teach) - LinkedIn SlideShare

      Feb 12, 2012 · 1. SOIL, HOW IT IS FORMED More elementary than my other SOIL slide show and pitched more for 3rd or 4th grade students. By MoiraBy Moira Whitehouse PhD. 2. The continents have a layer of solid rock, the crust, covering the hot stuff in the mantle.The continental crust, then, is mostly coveredwith thick layers of soil. 3.