Soil Sampling in the Garden


Your Name: Stephen Payne

Class Grade Level(s): 6

Class Subject: Science

Number of Students in the class: 21

Lesson/Project Name: Soil Sampling in the Garden

A.  Pre-Reflection

What are your professional teaching goals going into this?  Please list at least 3.  

  1. To learn more about using a garden as a teaching tool
  2. To help students understand the importance of plants used to feed people
  3. How to use the outside as a teaching tool and not to rely on doing everything inside the classroom

What are your goals for students going into this?

  1. What is good soil compared to bad soil for growing plants in
  2. What do seeds need for them to grow
  3. The need for a community garden, and how it can help feed the community.

a. Process/skill goals

1. Outdoor learning is still part of the classroom

2. Outdoor learning can be fun

3. Using materials that they find outside to complete labs.

4. What makes good soil and how to make it.

5. Growing plants to feed the community

b.  Subject/content goals

1.What makes good soil

2. Seed germination


I read the book “How to grow a School Garden” chapter 6 A healthy outdoor classroom

To go outside and test different soil samples around the school, and to test the soil they are using for the garden

Examine organisms they find in each soil sample (if any)

1.  Materials

-buckets for water and soil collection

-jars for soil testing

-hand lenses


-paper plates


2.  The Class/Project

a.  Prep before going outside: (90 minutes)

  • Make worksheets for the work to be completed outside
  • Go around the school and find suitable sites for soil collection
  • Discussion of soil. What is soil? What is soil made of.
  • Organize into groups and review outside behavior and consequences
  • Go over the work they will be doing outside and get groups to collect all equipment they will need for their work outside

b. Outside: (90 minutes)

Description of activity:

In groups they are to collect soil samples in the jars provided.  Mark the jars

Pour soil onto paper plate for later use.  Mark the plates with area it was collected.

Pour water into jars and shake thoroughly.  Make sure all the soil has been mixed with the water.  Let the soil settle in the water.

Look at the soil samples on the plates.  Describe the soil.  Does it have decomposed material (plants, animal pieces)?  Size of rocks.  Small, large  etc.

Using hand lenses do you see any organisms in the soil samples? (earthworms, bugs etc)  Why are they there?

When soil has settled in water are there different layers of soil size mark the different layers.

What is the difference in the layers and composition of the soil sample?

How is the good garden soil sample different to the other soil samples?

What makes soil good for plants?

What is needed in our garden to ensure good plant growth?

c.  Classroom follow-up: (30 minutes)

Discuss findings of soil samples. Discuss why it is necessary for good soil to have organisms such as earthworms inside the soil.

C.  Reflection: 

Students were very involved in the activity.

Those who normally pay little attention in class were far more involved outside where they had a hands-on approach.

Had a few behavioral issues at first but corrected behavior.

I thought the activity went well and I would repeat it.

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