Soil Habitats

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Soil Habitats
Life Science
Grades 2-3 | 40 sessions

Students learn about decomposition, plant and animal adaptations, habitats, and the properties of soil. They also learn to make predictions, pose questions, use text features as they read, and to write descriptions and scientific explanations. They learn and use scientific vocabulary, for example, organism, adaptation, evidence, and observation.

Click Here to Download the Correlation of Soil Habitats with the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts Grade 2

Click Here to Download the Correlation of Soil Habitats with the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts Grade 3

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Do it:

Students engage in hands-on activities, such as setting up their own terrariums and observing earthworms. Students also plan and conduct their own investigations.

Talk it:

Students are provided with many opportunities for small group discussions to help them make sense of science ideas. For example, students debate which soil organisms are best suited to escape predators, and present the results of their investigations to the class.

Read it:

Students read nine science books, including Earthworms Underground, about how earthworms are adapted to live underground. Students use comprehension strategies such as posing questions, and learn how to navigate informational text

Write it:

Students write descriptions and scientific explanations. Throughout the unit, students write to record observations and reflect on their learning, including writing an informational page about earthworm adaptations.

Student Books

Learning Goals

Science Literacy
Science Knowledge
  • Properties of Earth Materials: Soil
  • Life Processes: Decomposition
  • Plant and Animal Adaptations
  • Organisms and Habitats

Science Inquiry

  • Posing Questions
  • Making Predictions
  • Making Explanations from Evidence
  • Making Observations
  • Recording Observations

Nature and Practices of Science

  • Understanding That Science Knowledge is Based on Evidence
  • Distinguishing Observations from Inferences
  • Recognizing That the Scientific Community Seeks to Improve
  • Understanding how Scientists Engage in the Practices of Science
  • Making Predictions
  • Posing Questions
  • Using Informational Text Features
  • Making and Using Diagrams


  • Taking Notes
  • Writing Explanations
  • Writing Descriptions
  • Using Scientific Language and Vocabulary


  • Making Oral Presentations
  • Participating in Scientific Discourse
  • Making Explanations from Evidence
  • Using Scientific Language and Vocabulary

Science Content

The Soil Habitats unit teaches important earth science and life science concepts, as students investigate soil and the organisms that live in soil.

Properties of earth materials: Students learn that soil is an earth material, made of living and non-living materials such as rocks, plant parts, plants and animals, water, and air. Different soils have different properties such as how much water they can hold. Soil covers much of the land on Earth and is an important resource for living things. Living things also contribute to the soil: the nutrients in soil come from living things, plant roots help hold soil in place, and animals in soil help loosen soil and keep air in soil.

Decomposition: Decomposition is the process by which material from living things decays. Small organisms called decomposers, including earthworms, isopods (potato bugs) and bacteria, help decompose dead plants and animals. As dead plants and animals, fallen plant parts, and animal droppings decompose, they become part of the soil.

Plant and animal adaptations: Adaptations are behaviors and body parts that help living things survive in their habitats. Students learn about plant adaptations, especially different kinds of roots. Students learn about the adaptations of soil animals, especially earthworms and isopods.

Organisms and habitats: An organism’s habitat includes the place where the organism lives and everything the organism needs to survive. An organism’s habitat also includes the other organisms living there. Organisms can survive only in habitats where they can meet their basic needs, including food, water, moisture, and light. Students learn about soil organisms and their habitats.