Activity Introduction

Soil and the nutrients it contains are essential for all living things. Have you ever heard of a gardener described as having green thumbs to compliment their wonderful and productive garden? It may be more correct to say they have brown thumbs because it all comes down to what’s in the soil. In this activity you are going outside and getting dirty to find out what the soil is like in your area.

The properties of soil determine the vigour and health of plants. There exists a number of simple soil tests that allow the quality of soil to be determined. The soil quality can then be adjusted to suit the desired plants, be it leafy spinach or a feature plant within a landscaped garden.

Soil moisture and nutrients are two types of soil properties. Being able to investigate soil properties is a neat form of backyard science that anyone can do. What’s more, this is data that can be fed into your family quite literally when the information is used to improve your vegie patch. So it’s time to put on a sun hat and break out the gardening gloves as you venture outside.

Safety advice: Conduct a risk assessment of the site. Examples of potential dangers outside: large trees with dead or dying limbs, stinging or biting insects, sunburn and dehydration. Remember, it’s always best to be prepared by having a phone and first aid kit handy.

Some kids will be able to work on this activity with minimal support.

Ideal for:  Upper Primary Ages 10 – 12

Themes: 

  • investigate 
  • get messy
  • fresh air 

Time required: Part A – 50 minutes; Part B – 30 minutes

Curriculum connections: Science, Critical and Creative Thinking, Sustainability

Lesson & Curriculum Details

Curriculum codes: 

Complete lesson for classroom teachers:

Outdoor Learning – Topsoil Testing – Year 8

Resources Required

  • Coffee can or similar with bottom removed
  • Garden gloves
  • Jar with a screw lid
  • Notebook for recording information
  • Pencil/pen 
  • Small clear containers for observing invertebrates
  • Small hand-held garden fork
  • Small spade
  • Straightened wire coat hanger
  • Tape measure or ruler for measuring depth and width of holes
  • Trowel
  • Water bottle or access to a water source

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Learning@Home from Cool Australia

Learning@Home resources are designed for parents and teachers to use with children in the home environment. They can be used as stand-alone activities or built into existing curriculum-aligned learning programs. Our Learning@Home series includes two types of resources. The first are fun and challenging real-world activities for all ages, the second are self-directed lessons for upper primary and secondary students. These lessons support independent learning in remote or school settings.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.

Worksheets

Student Worksheet

Test Your Topsoil - Activity Instructions

Soil and the nutrients it contains are essential for all living things. Have you ever heard of a gardener described as having green thumbs to compliment their wonderful and productive garden? It may be more correct to say they have brown thumbs because it all comes down to what’s in the soil. In this activity you are going outside and getting dirty to find out what the soil is like in your area.

The properties of soil determine the vigour and health of plants. There exists a number of simple soil tests that allow the quality of soil to be determined. The soil quality can then be adjusted to suit the desired plants, be it leafy spinach or a feature plant within a landscaped garden.

Soil moisture and nutrients are two types of soil properties. Being able to investigate soil properties is a neat form of backyard science that anyone can do. What’s more, this is data that can be fed into your family quite literally when the information is used t

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