Last Spring, Onetime and I spent a fantastic sunny afternoon digging around in the backyard, trying to figure out what new plants we wanted to plant, and trying to decide if we wanted to dig up an old, unattractive bush to make way for a new veggie garden.
When we dug down under the bush we discovered some worms, an old piece of pottery and a mysterious underground wire. It got Onetime and me thinking about the components of soil and we decided to make a simple soil discovery bottle to find out more!
This soil discovery bottle sure ain’t pretty – but it’s cool! Read on to find out how we made it and what we learned from it!
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Learning About Soil
We learned that soil is made up of many parts: organic material called “humus” (decomposing plant and animals), sand, rocks and/or gravel, clay – and air and water of course.
In order to see these different components of the soil, you can make this simple soil discovery bottle with your kids.
- An empty water bottle (we used a VOSS water bottle)
Steps to Make a Soil Discovery Bottle
- Have your child dig up a couple handfuls of soil. Make sure to get some of the soil from the surface as well as some from underneath.
Tip: Use a spoon or a funnel to help get the soil into an empty water bottle.
- Fill the rest of the bottle with tap water, cap it off, and invite your child to shake the bottle for at least a minute!
- Allow the bottle to rest for the next 7 days while you observe what happens.
At first the water will be very murky with the plant material floating on the top.
Eventually, as things settle, the heavier rocks will sink to the bottom, then the sand will settle in a layer.
A thin layer of grey clay may appear at last, and the organic material will remain floating or will settle on the top.
If you’re lucky, you may even see little animals swimming in the water above the soil in your jar called nematodes which look like tiny white worms. Don’t worry – they’re supposed to be there. Nematodes are some of Mother Nature’s natural decomposers.
However, this seems like a good time to remind you to get your child to wash their hands well with soap and warm water after any explorations of soil.
The soil discovery bottle is a fun activity to do and to watch over the course of a week! If your child/children are extra interested, why not read them a book or two about soil?
Here are two of my favourites!
Looking for some other fun nature themed discovery bottles? Check these out!
Vegetable Garden Discovery Bottle | Sunny Day Family
Desert Flower Discovery Bottle | Preschool Inspirations
Simple Spring Nature Sensory Bottles | Lemon Lime Adventures
Sea Shells Sensory Bottle | Rhythms of Play
Calming Nature Sensory Bottle | Sugar Aunts