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Soils

In this worksheet, students will be helped to explore the world of soils, looking at their different characteristics and why soil is so important.

'Soils' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:   Rocks

Curriculum subtopic:   Soils

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Soil is very important to the health of the planet: it's what plants are anchored in and it provides them with essential minerals so that they grow well. There are many different types of soil in the UK and around the world.

 

Handful of soil

 

This series of questions looks at different aspects of soil: what it is made of, why that's important and how it affects what grows in it.

Soil contains lots ands lots of different-sized particles ("bits").

 

What type of particles do all types of soil contain?

sand

rock

chalk

The particles ("bits") in soil are all sorts of different shapes and sizes.

 

Complete the following sentence: "The size of the spaces between the particles affects how easy it is...

to grow cabbages in

to stand on

for water to drain through

If you shake a sample of soil up in some water in a bottle, which soil particles settle to the bottom first?

heaviest

lightest

darkest

What do plants get out of the soil that they need in order to grow well?

food

air

minerals

The spaces between the soil particles are big enough to allow tiny soil animals to live there (ones that are much smaller than worms or beetles!).

 

What must also be between the soil particles to allow them to live?

air

oxygen

fertiliser

In natural habitats, leaves and other parts of plants fall on to the surface of the soil where they rot down to form compost.

 

This compost acts as a natural...

fertiliser

insulator

waterproof layer

Gardeners often add artificial fertilisers to their plants to help them to grow better.

 

What is in these products that encourages plant growth?

water

minerals

green stuff

Imagine that you do an experiment at school to find out how quickly water can pass through two different soils. You pour 100cm3 of water into a sample of sand and 100cm3 into a sample of clay and you time how quickly the water drips out.

 

After three minutes you find that 80cm3 of water has dripped out of the sand and that 30cm3 has passed through the clay.

 

Match the following conclusions to the correct type of soil:

Column A

Column B

allows water through fastest
sand
allows the most water through
clay
drained the water slowest
sand
has large spaces between the particles
clay
has tiny particles with tiny spaces between them
sand

Imagine that you are comparing how well tomato plants grow in two different types of soil: peat and sandy soil.

 

You place 50g of peat in one pot and 100g of sandy soil in another.

You put one tomato plant in the sandy soil and three tomato seeds in the peat.

Then you add 20cm3 of water to the sandy soil and 60cm3 to the peat (it absorbs so much!).

Then you put the pot of sandy soil outside your classroom window and leave the peat on the windowsill inside.

 

Do you think that this was a 'fair' test? How many 'unfair' mistakes did you spot?

2

3

4

5

See whether you can work out which type of soil is which according to its characteristics:

 

  • Soil X is a very light-coloured soil, with some white bits in it, and water drains through it quickly
  • Soil Y is a light-coloured soil with lots of big air spaces between its particles. It feels dry when you touch it and water passes through it easily.
  • Soil Z is a heavy sticky soil, rather orangey in colour, with small air spaces. Water forms puddles on the top and drains through very slowly.

Column A

Column B

Soil X
Clay soil
Soil Y
Chalky soil
Soil Z
Sandy soil
  • Question 1

Soil contains lots ands lots of different-sized particles ("bits").

 

What type of particles do all types of soil contain?

CORRECT ANSWER
rock
EDDIE SAYS
Soil is formed as rocks are worn down by weathering. Lots do contain sand, but by no means all.
  • Question 2

The particles ("bits") in soil are all sorts of different shapes and sizes.

 

Complete the following sentence: "The size of the spaces between the particles affects how easy it is...

CORRECT ANSWER
for water to drain through
EDDIE SAYS
The bigger the spaces between the particles the easier it is for water to trickle through.
  • Question 3

If you shake a sample of soil up in some water in a bottle, which soil particles settle to the bottom first?

CORRECT ANSWER
heaviest
EDDIE SAYS
The heaviest ones, like small stones, will sink to the bottom first.
  • Question 4

What do plants get out of the soil that they need in order to grow well?

CORRECT ANSWER
minerals
EDDIE SAYS
Minerals are things like nitrates and phosphates that plants have to have to be healthy (just like you!). Otherwise they don't grow well or they have yellow leaves or similar problems.
  • Question 5

The spaces between the soil particles are big enough to allow tiny soil animals to live there (ones that are much smaller than worms or beetles!).

 

What must also be between the soil particles to allow them to live?

CORRECT ANSWER
oxygen
EDDIE SAYS
If you worked out the answer was oxygen, well done! All animals need a supply of oxygen to be able to survive so that's the best answer.
  • Question 6

In natural habitats, leaves and other parts of plants fall on to the surface of the soil where they rot down to form compost.

 

This compost acts as a natural...

CORRECT ANSWER
fertiliser
EDDIE SAYS
There are masses of important minerals locked away in all that dead plant material which are released back into the soil as it rots into compost - so it acts as a natural fertiliser.
  • Question 7

Gardeners often add artificial fertilisers to their plants to help them to grow better.

 

What is in these products that encourages plant growth?

CORRECT ANSWER
minerals
EDDIE SAYS
Artificial fertilisers are a mixture of different minerals designed to speed up plant growth by giving a constant supply of these important chemicals.
  • Question 8

Imagine that you do an experiment at school to find out how quickly water can pass through two different soils. You pour 100cm3 of water into a sample of sand and 100cm3 into a sample of clay and you time how quickly the water drips out.

 

After three minutes you find that 80cm3 of water has dripped out of the sand and that 30cm3 has passed through the clay.

 

Match the following conclusions to the correct type of soil:

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

allows water through fastest
sand
allows the most water through
sand
drained the water slowest
clay
has large spaces between the part...
sand
has tiny particles with tiny spac...
clay
EDDIE SAYS
The results show that sand drains the water fastest (80cm3 in 3 min) and so must have larger air spaces than the clay which only managed 30cm3 in the same time.
  • Question 9

Imagine that you are comparing how well tomato plants grow in two different types of soil: peat and sandy soil.

 

You place 50g of peat in one pot and 100g of sandy soil in another.

You put one tomato plant in the sandy soil and three tomato seeds in the peat.

Then you add 20cm3 of water to the sandy soil and 60cm3 to the peat (it absorbs so much!).

Then you put the pot of sandy soil outside your classroom window and leave the peat on the windowsill inside.

 

Do you think that this was a 'fair' test? How many 'unfair' mistakes did you spot?

CORRECT ANSWER
5
EDDIE SAYS
Oops - so many mistakes! Different amounts of soil, different amounts of water, one is a plant and the other seeds, one plant to three seeds and finally they were left in different places. The results will be meaningless!
  • Question 10

See whether you can work out which type of soil is which according to its characteristics:

 

  • Soil X is a very light-coloured soil, with some white bits in it, and water drains through it quickly
  • Soil Y is a light-coloured soil with lots of big air spaces between its particles. It feels dry when you touch it and water passes through it easily.
  • Soil Z is a heavy sticky soil, rather orangey in colour, with small air spaces. Water forms puddles on the top and drains through very slowly.
CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Soil X
Chalky soil
Soil Y
Sandy soil
Soil Z
Clay soil
EDDIE SAYS
The particles in chalk are big and whitish so it drains well. Sand also has big particles and is a ... sandy colour! Clay has tiny particles, close together, and struggles to let water through. If you've used it to make a pot you'll know this!
---- OR ----

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