"The Soil Around Us" Project
"The Soil Around Us" project introduces collaborative reading, writing and groupwork processes, such as brainstorming, labeling, mapping and storyboarding. Computer-based activities emphasize multimedia skills, such as creating and editing drawings, photos and text, and introduce basic Internet navigation skills. Click below to see the lesson plan for each of the eight sessions.
In "The Soil Around Us", children will formulate questions to which they want to find answers and the adult facilitators will help the children figure out how to find the answers, do the investigations, and document what they have learned.
The project can be adapted to a variety of interests and ways of working. It can be done in sequence or out of sequence, in parts or as one continuous, connected project. Because many out-of-school programs follow an academic calendar of winter, spring and summer terms, an 8-week project is suggested. Assuming a typical term of 12 to 13 weeks, this schedule allows extra time for field trips; preparatory activities, such as group introductions; closure activities, such as family nights; and extension activities.
"The Soil Around Us" is designed for 9- to 11-year-olds. The environment, environmental protection, animal and plant life, natural systems and life cycles make up common themes in children's schoolwork, in the literature and media they are exposed to and in their personal lives. The project can be adapted for other age groups by selecting age-appropriate reading material, group activities, Web sites and software.
The adult facilitators will help the children identify questions that they want to investigate for the project. Questions could be broad, such as:
- Where can we find dirt?
- What is dirt made of?
- What things live in dirt?
- Are there different kinds of dirt?
- What things need dirt to grow?
- What grows in dirt?
- How can we use dirt?
- Is dirt different in different places in the world?
- Where does dirt come from?
Or questions could be specific to a particular topic, such as:
- Why do worms come out of the dirt when it rains?
- What do ants do in an anthill?
- What happens during the winter to moles and other animals that live underground?
Groups doing this project will have the option to make one or more of the following products:
- Multimedia presentations
- A Web site
- Short videos
- Community maps
- A worm-based recycling bin
- A terrarium
Participants will also create the following individual products:
- Field trip journals