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Is it Dirt or is it Soil?

This month 850 students at 3 Wyoming schools learned that “soil” is the scientific name for the ground in their school garden. They discovered that soil has both living (organisms, decaying matter. air and water) and non-living (clay, sand, silt) parts and that it is the living parts that add important nutrients to our food. They also learned that we can “feed” our garden soil by adding composted matter.

H.O.P.E. educators, Mrs. Smith, Sarah, and Andrea shook glass jars filled with soil and water and then had students observe and identify the settled-out layers. They then positioned stickers of soil components onto their own soil chart and guessed the number of microorganisms in a spoonful of soil (one billion!).

Chefs Jake and Kathy demonstrated how to make a layered “edible soil” snack (see recipe below). As they added each layer the kids used their imaginations to see raisins as clay, bran cereal as sand, crushed graham crackers as silt, sunflower seeds as organisms, and honey and yogurt as living matter. After each received a serving, they were offered coconut “worms” as an optional topping. Everyone got a vote as students gave a thumbs up or thumbs down review of the recipe after tasting it.

At the end of the lesson, kids ventured out to the garden for a nature break and “fed the soil” by gleefully tossing handfuls of leaves on the garden, in the air, and at each other for some late fall fun.

Edible Soil Recipe

1 ½ Tablespoons raisins
1 ½ Tablespoons granola or whole grain cereal
1 graham cracker
1 Tablespoon sunflower butter or peanut butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla low-fat yogurt
1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon shredded coconut (optional)
1 1/2 Tablespoons sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds (optional)

Crush the graham cracker and put all ingredients in a small, clear plastic cup in the order they are listed.
Once the cups have been assembled and the graham cracker crumbs have been added, ask your child to look at the layers that have formed in the cup.
Stir the mixture as the soil would be mixed up in nature and enjoy

*This project was funded in whole or in part by the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Fitness Foundation. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. 

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