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4th, 5th, 6th


Science, Biology, Visual and Performing Arts

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Activity - Classroom

Regional Focus




Life Above and Below Soil

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  • This lesson plan and activity from ClimateScience teaches students about the important role of soil in healthy ecosystems. 
  • Students will create posters that show plants and animals live above and below the soil and how the soil is important to their way of life. 
  • Students will learn that healthy soil plays a vital role in agriculture, carbon storage, and organisms' habitats. 
  • Links to high quality sources about soil are included on the student handout in the sources section. 

Teaching Tips


  • Students will explore the extensive biodiversity that lives beneath our feet.
  • The activity allows students to use their research skills, writing skills, and artistic skills to convey their understanding.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The student handout should be shared with students digitally since the research sources are hyperlinked at the bottom of the page.
  • Students should be familiar with the vocabulary terms ecosystem, organic matter, carbon, habitat, and climate change.


  • Advanced students could read more extensively about soil using the links found in the "sources" tab.
  • In classes that have access to computers, students could have the option to create a slideshow instead of a poster.
  • After completing the poster activity students could create a comic strip of their poster organisms to explain the role that soil plays in storing carbon, helping crops grow, and providing habitat.
  • Other resources on this topic include this video on regenerative farming, this video (for advanced students) on soil formation and soil types, and this NOAA video on the carbon cycle.

Scientist Notes
This activity teaches students about the importance of soil ecosystems and their relationship with the Earth's climate. It has students learn (either directly from the teacher or in independent research) the value of soil ecosystems and has students prepare posters highlighting interesting aspects of soil ecosystems. There are several good resources available for preparation/research included in the lesson. This activity is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • MS-ESS2-1. Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth’s materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • 5-LS2-1. Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
      • MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
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