Soil & Compost Module – Digital Field Trips

Hello students and teachers!

We’re so glad you’re joining us for our Soil & Compost digital field trip lessons. Read through each lesson and click on the links to learn with us.

Scroll down for previous lessons.

We are also offering Family Field Trips onsite at Topaz Farm this spring! Click here for more information and to register.

If you or your teacher is interested in how our Digital Field Trips correlate with Oregon’s Next Generation Science Standards, you can check out our handy Module Descriptions and NGSS Correlations document.







Lesson 1

  • Do you ever wonder what happens to your fruit and vegetable scraps that you compost or throw out after a meal? Have you ever heard of decomposition? Do you know that Soil is made up of 4 different parts?
  • In nature, plant and animal materials decompose as a part of a food web system.  When we live in cities or towns we can create our own systems through composting and vermiculture. When you compost you create your own system through adding plant materials together (compost: to put together), you also can turn your compost into food for red wiggler worms. We are delighted to share 10 soil and compost lessons with you.
  • For now, take a look at an introduction to Compost/Decomposers Crash Course to see what happens to our food waste.







Lesson 2

  • Now that we know a bit more about decomposers, we want you to take some time to learn a bit more about dirt. Out on the farm we spend a lot of time working to make sure our soil is healthy.  What do you think is the difference between Dirt and Soil?
  • We found another amazing video that helps explain this all better than we can without you being here on the farm. Take a look: The Secret History of Dirt.  Oh, and this video is a little longer (10 minutes) so you might want to watch half now, and half a little later.







Lesson 3

  • This week we have a self-guided activity for you: Move around your room, or area of study (camper, garden, closet, home, tent, etc.) and find 1 object around your dwelling that can fit in your palm. 
    • What color is the object?
    • How would you describe it?
    • What do you think it is made of? 
  • Do you think that your object will end up in the garbage someday?
  • Do you know what garbage is?  How about where it goes after it leaves you?
  • Want to learn more? Check out this video: Where does our garbage go? [4 part Composting with Worms series from Metro]
  • Independent Discovery Opportunity: “Worms Eat My Garbage”


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Lesson 4

  • Every wonder what is happening below your feet when standing outside?  Check out this video on soil layers: Layers of Soil, and then answer the following questions:
    • Which layer is home to lots of minerals?
    • Which layer is very hard?
    • Which layer is made of leaves and other garden scraps?
    • Which layer has rocks with lots of cracks in them known as “parent rocks”?
    • Which layer is home to earthworms?


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Lesson 5

Did you know that soil is made up of 4 main parts? Do you remember what they are? Well here is a whole lot of information for you about what we at SIC like to call WAMO… that’s right W-A-M-O. (Water, Air, Minerals, & Organic Matter). Check out this awesome presentation to learn more!







Lesson 6

Last week we talked about the four main parts of soil – remember them?? They are Water, Air, Minerals, and Organic Matter – or WAMO for short! Starting this week, we’re going to look at each one of those parts individually. This week we’re talking about Air!

  • Click here for our presentation all about the role that air plays in soil.
  • Once you’ve had a chance to read through the information, see if you can answer these questions:
    • Based on what you’ve learned so far about sand, silt, and clay soils…
      • Which type of soil would have the most air in it?
      • Which type of soil would have the least air in it?







Lesson 7

This week we continue our look into the different parts of WAMO by learning about Water!

First, check out this presentation about the role that water plays in soil.

Then, watch this video to see what happens when we add water to different types of soil.

Once you’ve learned about water in soil, think about these questions:

  • We’ve mentioned that soils that aren’t porous can hold too much water, which isn’t good…. Why is that?
  • Take a moment to think back to what we learned about air. Why can too much water be a bad thing?
  • If you’re having trouble remembering, take a look at the WAMO: Air slides again!


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Lesson 8

We’re continuing to explore the four components of WAMO – this week we’re looking at Minerals!

Check out this presentation to learn all about Minerals and the role they play in soil.

Fun Activities on Minerals:

  • Click this link it will take you to a fun coloring activity teaching you what minerals plants need to thrive.
  • Click this link to virtually grow your own corn crop with the NPK nutrients that we’ve learned about during this virtual field trip.

Have fun with these activities!  See you for the next installment of our soil and compost field trips that will cover the O in WAMO, organic matter.

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Lesson 9

It’s time to talk about the final component of soil – Organic Matter! There are many reasons why organic matter is such an important part of soil: it holds nutrients, increases nutrient exchange, retains moisture, increases water’s ability to move throughout the soil, and more.

Organic Matter consists of three primary parts:

  • Decomposing active organic matter
  • Stable organic matter (humus)
  • Small fresh plant residues and small living soil organisms

Check out our presentation about Organic Matter to learn even more!

Now it’s time for some activities! Check out our Organic Matter Activity Page for a fun game and some cool worksheets.

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Lesson 10

In this lesson, we’re sharing information on red wiggler worms, and instructions on how to make your very own worm bin compost system!

Start off with this presentation to learn all about red wigglers and worm bins.

Want to have your own worm bin at Home? Check out this How to Create Cheap DIY Worm Bins by Kids video link to learn more about making your own, or you can purchase a pre-made bin like Can-o-Worms or Worm Factory

And last, we have lots of great worm bin resources on our website:

Red Wiggler Worm Maintenance 101

Worms in My Classroom – lesson for students building a classroom worm bin










Lesson 11

This lesson is actually five lessons in one! We have a series of mini lessons all about decomposers for you to check out. Click on the links below to learn more about fungi, bacteria, and more:

Decomposers in the Cycle of Life

Fungi: Breaking it Down!



Video Lesson: How are Plant Parts and Compost Connected?