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  • Soil – it’s much more than dirt. Soil keeps us alive. Without soil, we would be hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless and breathless. Soils differ from location to location and are a range of colours. Around 25% of everything alive on Earth uses soil as a habitat.

    Soil is also where we dig for treasure. Pick up a spade and see what educational treasures exist in the world beneath our feet.'

    Below are resources for primary teachers related to soil in the Planet Earth and Beyond strand of the New Zealand Curriculum. The first two soil themes (habitat and differences) are suitable for NZC levels 2 and up. The remaining themes (nutrients and climate change) are suitable for NZC levels 3 and up.

    The students thought ‘dirt’ was pretty boring until their eyes were opened to ‘soil’ and what lies beneath the ground. They were fascinated to discover roots, glass, worms and clay. What made a huge impact on them was how important soil is to us and the world in which we live.



    Soil is a habitat

    Soil is a habitat
    Niches within earthworms’ habitat
    Activity: Observing soil microbes
    Activity: New Zealand soil creatures

    Did you know there are more things living under the ground in the soil than there are people living above ground? I was amazed by that! It is a bit freaky.

    Cate, year 2 student

    Soils differ from place to place

    Soils are all different
    What is in soil?
    Soil properties
    Soil names
    Video: Important soil properties
    Activity: Observing soil differences
    Activity: Dig a hole
    Activity: What makes up soil? (includes an interactive graphic organiser)
    Activity: Visual soil assessment

    We dug a MASSIVE hole, and I didn’t know the ground went that far down. When we went deeper, we found different soil like clay, and it was harder and crumbly. I loved being a scientist.

    Flynn, year 2 student

    Soil and nutrients

    Managing nutrients
    Focusing on phosphorus
    The role of clover
    Video: Phosphorus
    Video: The importance of clover
    Interactive: The terrestrial nitrogen cycle
    Activity: Nutrient pollution
    Activity: Water and nitrate leaching

    Soil is spectacular because it is the main thing to help trees to grow, and trees give us oxygen to breathe. If we didn’t have soil, it could get tricky.

    Alyssia, year 2 student

    Soils and climate change

    Inhibiting nitrous oxide emissions
    Farming and environmental pollution
    Activity: Farming and environmental issues

    Teacher support materials

    Online professional development

    This online PD session recorded on 3 June 2015 introduces agriculture and horticulture teachers to resources on the Science Learning Hub that support three particular aspects – soils, plant reproduction and management practices.

    SLH and agriculture/horticulture

    Topic planners and Unit plans

    Topic planners offer a suggested pathway through some of the soils resources on the Science Learning Hub.
    Soil theme – Is all soil the same?
    Soil theme - Nutrients

    Unit plans on earthworms, a common soil animal:
    Earthworms (lower primary)
    Earthworms (upper primary)

    Nature of science

    It is important in science to not only build students’ knowledge and understanding of science but to support them to make connections between science concepts and the world around them. Soil is an ideal context for this as it links to many other aspects of science as well as global and local issues, such as growing food and farming practices.

    Useful link

    Visit the Hub’s Pinterest board: We dig soil.

      Published 18 February 2016 Referencing Hub articles
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