What’s under our feet?

It can be hard for students to really visualize what exists under their feet, inside the dirt.  To help students understand what the environment is like down there, students get a hands-on exploration and create a classroom mural.

Materials:

Enough dirt that each group of about 4 students has about a cup of dirt.

1 tray or bin for each group

magnifying glasses

a journal or paper to record observations

blank paper for mural

crayons, markers or colored pencils

After previous lessons where students have already been introduced to dirt (and maybe learned what dirt is made from), do this activity to allow exploratory learning and create a kinesthetic/tactile experience.  Before starting, have students make predictions about what they might find in the dirt.   You will need to be able to dig up some dirt either from home or from the schoolyard and bring it into the classroom.  Use either trays or bins for the students to explore the dirt in groups of about 4 students.  Remind them to use the magnifying glasses to explore objects of interest.  Tell students to record EVERYTHING they find in the dirt.  This may include bits of pebbles, trash, roots, dead leaves, seeds, and be prepared for some live critters.  You may even want to create a critter identification sheet (you might find this sample critter ID useful, on the last page of the pdf) including critters like grubs, centipedes, millipedes, ants, worms, pillbugs, mites, and any other creatures you would expect in your area.  You’ll be surprised at all the stuff the students will find in the dirt!!!

Once students have had a chance to thoroughly explore the dirt, allow students to share their findings with the rest of the class.  Compare findings to students’ predictions.  Hand out paper and tell students that each person in the group must choose one or two things to draw from their findings (students in the same group must all draw different objects).  Tell students to color the background of their drawing the same color as the dirt.  Hang the drawings on the wall to create a mural of what it looks like under our feet (When I did this, I created some paper legs/feet to put at the top of the mural, so it looked like we were looking at a cross-section of the dirt under the feet).

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