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Different Types of Soil

In this worksheet, students will be looking at the characteristics of different soil types.

'Different Types of Soil' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:  Rocks

Curriculum subtopic:  Soils

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Not all soils are the same.  If you dig into the ground in different places you will find different kinds of soil.

 

Some soils, like sandy and loamy soils, are light and crumbly.

Some, like chalky or silty soils are gritty

Some, like clay, are heavy and sticky.

 

If you dig down deep enough beneath the soil you will eventually reach rock. Over a very long time this rock has been broken down to form the soil that now lies on top of it.  So the type of soil you have depends on the type of rock it has come from.

 

This worksheet gives you an opportunity to find out what you know about different types of soil.

 

Handful of soil
 

Here are some lists.

 

Which ONE of these do you think are types of soil?

clay, loam and chalk

marble, slate and sandstone

woodland, seashore and desert

Soil particles can be grouped in three main sizes.  That then affects which type of soil it is.

 

Below are listed different sorts of soils with different sizes of soil particles.  Which of these do you think is listed in order from those with the biggest particles to those with the smallest?

clay, silt, sand

silt, clay, sand

sand, silt, clay

Why are sandy soils well drained?

not much rain falls where sandy soild are found

there are a lot of rivers where sandy soils are found

water can pass easily between the large particles in a sandy soil

Why are clay soils so sticky?

water gets trapped between the tiny particles of soil

tiny animals in the soil stick it together

plant roots in the soil make a sticky substance

How can a sieve help you find out what kind of soil you have?

 

it can help you to find out what size your soil particles are

it can help you find rock samples

it can remove insects from the soil

Finally, do you think that anything lives in the soil?

yes

no

So, what sort of material has most of the soil particles been made from?

rock

small animals

sand

compost

What sort of things do you think can break rock down in order to form soil?

 

Tick all the ones you think can help to grind rock into smaller pieces.

wind

rain

ice

burrowing

Apart from rock particles, what else might be found in soil?

 

Tick all the ones you think might be.

water

air

animals

plants

When leaves fall from trees in the autumn, they rot down and, with other remains of animals and plants, they form COMPOST in the soil.

 

How do you think this compost might help the soil?  Tick all the ones you agree with.

compost provides minerals for plants

compost improves the structure of the soil

compost helps provide food for soil animals

compost helps the soil to absorb water

  • Question 1

Here are some lists.

 

Which ONE of these do you think are types of soil?

CORRECT ANSWER
clay, loam and chalk
EDDIE SAYS
These are just three of the commonly found types of soil. Clay soils tend to be heavy and to hold their water while chalky soils are crumbly and allow water to drain through them quite quickly. The type of soil has a massive effect upon the sorts of plants that grow in it.
  • Question 2

Soil particles can be grouped in three main sizes.  That then affects which type of soil it is.

 

Below are listed different sorts of soils with different sizes of soil particles.  Which of these do you think is listed in order from those with the biggest particles to those with the smallest?

CORRECT ANSWER
sand, silt, clay
EDDIE SAYS
Sandy soil has the biggest particles and clay soil the smallest. That means that water tends to drain quite quickly through sandy soil whilst it takes ages through clay. Silt is formed of small particles of rock, ground up by rivers. It makes good soils for plants to grow in.
  • Question 3

Why are sandy soils well drained?

CORRECT ANSWER
water can pass easily between the large particles in a sandy soil
EDDIE SAYS
The big particles in a sandy soil let water drain through easily. Soils that are too sandy may actually dry out because they cannot hold water very well.
  • Question 4

Why are clay soils so sticky?

CORRECT ANSWER
water gets trapped between the tiny particles of soil
EDDIE SAYS
The particles in a clay soil are so tiny that it is hard for water to drain through it. Instead the ground can be become waterlogged, forming a heavy, sticky soil.
  • Question 5

How can a sieve help you find out what kind of soil you have?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
it can help you to find out what size your soil particles are
EDDIE SAYS
Sieves are a good way of grading soil particles. Take a soil sample, leave it to dry and then break up the larger lumps. Shake it through a large-holed sieve and small and medium sized particles will fall through and rocks and bigger particles wil be left behind. You can take the soil that has fallen through and shake it through a sieve with smaller holes to get fine soil particles. Now you can see what sort of particles your soil is made up of.
  • Question 6

Finally, do you think that anything lives in the soil?

CORRECT ANSWER
yes
EDDIE SAYS
Yes! The soil is full of living things from microscopic plants and plant roots, to earthworms and countless tiny insects, centipedes, spiders and other tiny animals that you need a microscope to see. In fact, soil is teeming with life!
  • Question 7

So, what sort of material has most of the soil particles been made from?

CORRECT ANSWER
rock
EDDIE SAYS
Whilst all of these might be part of some soils, all soils are formed from the particles of rock that have been ground up to make the bulk of the soil. If you ever get a chance to look at a spoonful of soil under a microscope, you'll see loads and loads of rock particles.
  • Question 8

What sort of things do you think can break rock down in order to form soil?

 

Tick all the ones you think can help to grind rock into smaller pieces.

CORRECT ANSWER
wind
rain
ice
burrowing
EDDIE SAYS
In fact, all of them can! Weather is the #1 thing that breaks rocks into smaller particles. Remember, it happens over a massive period of time - thousands and thousands of years. Ice can break big rocks apart, wind (especially if it's carrying particles, like sand) can wear rock down. Rivers wear rock away, as does rain. Also certain animals, like some molluscs, can burrow into rock and so break it up. Plants can do the same. There's lots of things!
  • Question 9

Apart from rock particles, what else might be found in soil?

 

Tick all the ones you think might be.

CORRECT ANSWER
water
air
animals
plants
EDDIE SAYS
Again, amazingly, all these are part of soils too! Plants, of course, are often rooted in soil (and there are tiny plants actually inside the soil too), and there are tiny animals living between the soil particles. They need air (worms help to get air into the soil) and, of course, there has to be water in the soil. Plants rely on this.
  • Question 10

When leaves fall from trees in the autumn, they rot down and, with other remains of animals and plants, they form COMPOST in the soil.

 

How do you think this compost might help the soil?  Tick all the ones you agree with.

CORRECT ANSWER
compost provides minerals for plants
compost improves the structure of the soil
compost helps provide food for soil animals
compost helps the soil to absorb water
EDDIE SAYS
In fact, compost can help the soil in all these ways and more! When leaves and other dead material breaks down, all the goodness that was once in it is returned to the soil to be used by plants once again - it\'s a wonderful, natural recycling process!
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