Soil testing is a great at-home lab for students who are distance learning or for students who are in class. Some teachers call it the “mud lab”. These labs are “physical” soil tests for soil texture. There are many other soil tests that students need to examine such as chemistry of soil, permeability, porosity and soil formation.

Materials for Soil Texture Labs

  • A sample of soil. Students without a yard can obtain a small sample of soil from a nearby park or city planter. Students need about 2 cups of soil.
  • An empty jar. Straight sides are best, but in a pinch students can use a recyclable water bottle. Pasta sauce jars are a nice size.
  • Detergent. Borax is best, but dish soap or hand soap works well also. The soap is to help clay particles settle.
Students can use a hand trowel if they have one, but a plastic spoon can also work in a pinch

Soil Texture in a Jar Lab

Click for the Soil Texture in a Jar Lab. I divide this lab into two days with a picture upload for distance learning at the end of day 1 and another picture upload with the results for Day 2. To allow for clay to settle, we take results about a week later.

I made videos to help my students who are visual learners.

And how to measure the results and use a soil triangle on this video:

Soil Texture by Hand Lab

Click for the Soil Texture by Hand Lab. Students do this lab on the same day as when they get the results of the soil texture in a Jar Lab. They can see if their results match.

I also made a video to help my students who are visual learners.

This is a messy lab so make sure kids protect their electronics while doing this lab

Click for a Chemistry of Soil Video lab that can be used for distance learning.

Click for more Unit 4 Resources.

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