More About Wet Soils
Students continue to observe the properties of the three soil components when wet as they smear wet samples on paper to see the characteristic streak. They also observe the hardened clay balls and add to their understanding of how water content affects soil's consistency.
SYSTEMS 1.1-Properties: Understand how properties are used to identify, describe, and categorize substances, materials, and objects and how characteristics are used to categorize living things
GLE 1.1.1 Understand simple properties of common natural and manufactured materials and objects: Sort common materials and objects using a simple property and Identify and describe the differences between common natural and manufactured materials and objects using properties.
GLE 1.1.5 Understand physical properties of Earth materials: Sort rocks based on size, shape, and other physical properties and Explain how some Earth materials are used by living things.
INQUIRY 2.1-Investigating Systems: Develop the knowledge and skills necessary to do scientific inquiry.
INQUIRY 2.2-Nature of Science: Understand the nature of scientific inquiry
- Every soil component has unique properties that can be tested with simple tests.
- Simple tests can be performed to describe and identify soil components.
- The smearing of damp soil on paper can show color and texture unique to each soil component.
- Clay becomes hard when mixed with water and then dried.
Demonstrate using a small spoon of soil. Students don't need a full cupful of each soil component. Use drop cloths of newspaper for each set of partners' work area rather than having students work on the cardboard tray. The trays are often warped and not a flat work surface. In addition, newspaper is easy to fold in the edges and throw away.
If the reading "Have You Seen Sand or Clay Today?" will be placed in student notebooks after students read, extra copies will need to be made. Also copy the Record Sheet 5-A or Alternate 5-A for students to place in their notebooks.
Remind students to clean off their fingers after testing each soil so they do not contaminate the next smear test.
It is useful to designate one partner to get the water and eyedropper and spread the drop cloth, while the other partner gets the three soils.
If teachers have limited class time for the lesson, they may want to prepare the 15 cups of each soil ahead of time or have a student or parent prepare the cups of soil ahead of time.
The clay in the kit usually leaves an orange smear; however, clay color may vary. When testing local soils, the teacher needs to make students aware that lack of orange color is not necessarily an indicator of absence of clay.
A student completing a notebook smear test.
Image of a student notebook page with smear test data.
Using potting clay to sculpt simple clay objects and then (if there is access to a kiln) firing those objects can give students insight into how clay is used.
Teachers may prefer to use a record sheet that combines data from Lesson 4 and 5 on one sheet.
Students read the selection "Have You Seen Sand or Clay Today?" from the lesson. They will discuss or write about questions such as:
What did you learn about sand or clay from this story?
Look around the classroom. What do you see that is made from sand or clay?
Why do you think an artist uses wet clay instead of wet sand to make a plate or a statue?