Learn about the layers of soil with a fun, hands-on edible science activity. Make a soil profile model from rice cakes. Our layers of soil activity is a fun way to include a little earth science into your lessons. Look for the free printable project included to make lesson planning easy!
Learn About Soil For Spring Science
Spring is the perfect time of year for science! There are so many fun themes to explore. For this time of the year, our favorite topics to teach kids about spring include weather and rainbows, geology, Earth Day and of course plants!
Get ready to add this simple soil science activity, to your lesson plans this season. Our science activities and experiments are designed with you, the parent or teacher, in mind!
Easy to set up, quick to do, most activities will take only 15 to 30 minutes to complete and are heaps of fun! Plus, our supplies lists usually contain only free or cheap materials you can source from home!
Let’s learn about the layers of the soil, what they are called and why they are important! While you’re at it, make sure to check out these other fun spring science activities.
What Is Soil?
Soil is a thin layer of material that covers the earth’s surface. Soil is formed from the weathering of rocks. It is made up of minerals, organic materials, air, water and living organisms. Soil can be easily degraded through the process of erosion.
Why Is Soil Important?
Soil is a very important part of our planet. It is where plants put down their roots, and it provides nutrients for them to grow. It is also where some animals make their homes. Each layer of soil has its own special characteristics that are important for life on earth.
Soil filters rain water, and helps preventing flooding by moving large amounts of water. Learn about storm water runoff.
Soil can store large amounts of organic carbon, which is super important to slow down climate change. Carbon can come out of the atmosphere and be stored in the soil, helping to re-balance the global carbon budget. Learn about your carbon footprint.
What Are The Layers Of Soil?
Here are the 5 main layers of soil from top to bottom:
HUMUS: This organic, rich material is the upper layer. It is dark in color and crumbles easily. This layer of soil is rich in nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and phosphorus.
It is here that most plant roots, earthworms, insects and micro-organisms are active. Humus can be formed naturally through animals and plants decaying or through people composting their food and garden waste.
TOP SOIL: Another upper layer that is mostly organic. Top soil also allows the water to flow freely through it to the layers of soil beneath.
SUB SOIL: Not so organic but rich in minerals. It usually contains more small rocks and clay minerals than topsoil, but less organic matter and fewer nutrients, insects and microbes. Sub-soil is made of sand, silt and clay.
PARENT MATERIAL: Nothing living and full of rock fragments. When parent rock material is exposed to the atmosphere or when organic matter and/or minerals are deposited on the earth’s surface, parent material breaks down to form the top soil layers. Eg. basalt rock can break down to form clay soil.
BEDROCK: Almost solid rock. Bedrock is made up of igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic rock, and it is often the source of parent material for soil. Learn about the different types of rock with our edible rock cycle or crayon rock cycle.
Get Your FREE Printable Soil Layers Project!
How To Make An Edible Soil Profile Model
This soil science activity would be great to pair with growing plants in eggshells, or a building a mini greenhouse from plastic bottles!
- Tree Template
- 5 Rice Cakes
- Acrylic paint
- Card stock
- Glue stick
TIP: Want to make this activity all edible? Check out our edible paint recipe as an alternative to acrylic paint.
STEP 1: Print out the tree template.
STEP 2: Using card stock, cut out the tree and trunk. Glue them together and set aside.
STEP 3: Paint each of your rice cakes to represent each of the different layers: hummus, top soil, sub soil, parent material, and bedrock.
You can paint them with edible paint if you like!
STEP 4: Once dry, stack them in order on top of each other.
STEP 5: Make a slit in the top cake and add your tree. Paint roots on the side of your model.
More Fun Earth Science Activities
When you finish this edible layers of soil activity, why not explore more earth science with one of these ideas below. You can find all our geology activities for kids here!
Make your own tasty sedimentary rock to explore geology.
Make a layers of the earth model from LEGO bricks.
Why not grow sugar crystals or make edible geodes!
Explore the layers of soil with simple LEGO bricks.
Explore soil erosion for kids.
See tectonic plates in action with this hands-on project.
Grab some colored sand and glue for this fun layers of the earth activity.
Learn all about volcanos with these volcano facts and even make your own volcano.
Printable Spring Pack
If you’re looking to have all of your printable activities in one convenient place, plus exclusive worksheets with a spring theme, our 300+ page Spring STEM Project Pack is what you need!
Weather, geology, plants, life cycles, and more!