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Soil Does More Than Get You Dirty - I Spy Soil

I Spy Soil
(Introduction for Soil Activities)

Guiding question -
How can we identify/describe soil?


Time - 30 minutes

Student Outcomes
When taken on an outside walk, student will observe/identify soil in the schoolyard and give properties.


  • trowel
  • outdoor area where you can dig (near foundation or shrubbery)    


  • soil
  • properties
  • dirt


"Today we are going to go outside and take a walk around the schoolyard. We will all need to stay together. There is something I want each of you to find when we go outside. We will play 'I Spy' to find it; so listen carefully for me to say 'I Spy.' If you think you spy what I am looking for, raise your hand."


  1. Proceed outside after reviewing rules to be observed while outside. When everyone is out and is in a position to view some soil, say "I spy some soil." When a child correctly identifies some soil, use the trowel to scoop some up for closer observation (if in an appropriate place).
  2. "What are some properties (describing words) of soil?" (rough, brown, tan, black, soft, crumbly, rocky, etc.) As time permits, have other students identify soil in other locations. When observing additional soil, ask the question, "How is this soil different from other soil we observed?" (Note: If the word "dirt" is used, tell the students that what we are observing is soil. Dirt is something you sweep off your kitchen floor.)


When the students are back in the classroom, ask the question "What was the item we spied outside?" (soil) Review properties of soil by having students name them; list them on the board. Emphasize that we observed "soil" (not dirt).


Soil came from the Old French suel for earth. Dirt came from the Old Norse drit for excrement.

Lesson #1
Grade K-1