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Land Use Lesson Plan


Natural Resources

Lesson Title

Land Use



Estimated Time

4 hours


As urban development, agriculture, and other land uses compete over the limited land available, community members are being called upon to make decisions that have far-reaching effects. By being aware of the implications of soil on land use decisions, students will have a basis for educating themselves and weighing in on community issues in the future.


  1. Following the presentation by an NRCS soil scientist, students will accurately describe the implications that five of the nine soil factors can have on appropriate land use.
  2. After reading the background information on the Land Use Planning Map Transparency exercise, students will defend their land use plan before a student planning board and concerned "citizens".


Can anyone name the nine soil factors that we have studied?

(Write the correct answers on the chalk board.)

These soil factors have impacts on many functions of life on Earth. We have learned that soil affects watershed function and plant growth.

(Show Land...Characteristics and Climate overhead.)

Soil can also determine where we build houses and roads, where farmers locate fields, and where a park is situated in the community.


We will be studying the effect of soil factors on land use decisions. To do that, we need to understand a few more things about soil.

(Show the Soil Profile overhead.)

(Make edible soil and discuss the narrative as you build each layer.)


We have learned that parent material has an effect on all of the other layers of a soil profile. Topsoil and subsoil also have an effect on land use decisions. (Name), of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, is going to explain his work in conducting soil surveys, explain what information we can find in a soil survey, and how soil factors relate to land use decisions.

(Following the presentation, read through the Land Use Planning Map Transparency as a class. Follow the directions for the first activity. Provide a color handout of the map and copies of the Soil Types and Limitations to each group.)

Equipment and Supplies

  • Chocolate and vanilla pudding
  • Clear plastic cups
  • Gummy worms
  • “Land...Characteristics & Climate” overhead
  • Land Use Planning Map handouts
  • Land Use Planning Map transparency
  • Oreo cookies (whole and crumbled)
  • Soil profile transparency
  • Soil survey manuscript of the area (Available from the local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office.)
  • Spoons
  • Sprinkles

Visual Aids

The following documents are available in Adobe Reader format. Once you have saved the file to a local drive, open Acrobat Reader then open the saved file on your local drive. If you encounter any problems with the files provided on this page, please contact Webmaster at 406-587-6945.

Land . . . Characteristics and Climate overhead (PDF; 618 KB)
Soil Profile transparency (PDF; 859 KB)