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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Family Dirt

Let’s talk about dirt. Dirt is interesting. Dirt is fun. Dirt is everywhere! I am as enthusiastic about dirt as I am about cleaning it up. Honestly, I have never given more than two seconds thought to the dirt in my backyard. That is, until Sid the Science Kid, reminded me once again that most obvious and simple things can sometimes be the most rewarding.
This week’s cycle on Sid is about Backyard Science. Sid and his friends explore bird nests, animal communication, leaves, and yes, DIRT. When I read the activity called Dirt Detectives, I wasn’t too excited about the prospect of looking at brown dirt collected from all over my yard. I really didn’t think the activity would hold the boy’s attention for too long.
When am I going to learn? The folks at Sid the Science Kid know their stuff and they know what preschoolers will like. And Henry and Leo were ALL IN for this activity. I did tweak the activity a little bit and made it a family affair. Dirt IS fun. Let me explain…
I told the boys that we were going to be dirt detectives. I went through the instructions step by step. We were going to have a family dirt hunt. But first I wanted to get some predictions.
“Do you think the dirt is going to look the same in each pile?” I asked.
Henry thought about it and said, “I think there will be worms.”
“And twigs,” Leo added.
“But what about the way it looks?” I repeated.
“I am going to find bugs,” Henry said.
So, off they went. Dad got little shovels and I sent them off with instructions to fill the shovel and bring me back the dirt. In the meantime, I prepared paper plates, labeled with the locations of the dirt samples. With Dad’s help Henry and Leo gathered samples from 4 different spots in the backyard.
Then we really started having fun. (As if digging in the dirt wasn’t enough!) We began to talk about the dirt. I had the boys touch the dirt and tell me what it felt like. We talked about color and texture and weight. We looked at what was inside the dirt and found rocks, twigs, leaves, and white fertilizer balls. No bugs or worms, by the way. I asked the boys to tell me what pile was the darkest, the lightest, the finest, the coarsest. As they talked I wrote their ideas down on the paper plates so we could remember. When we finished gathering our impressions, we thought of statements to describe every plate of dirt. As usual, Henry and Leo impressed me with their thoughtful observations and understanding of science concepts. They used great vocabulary and of course, we laughed.
The boys wanted to continue gathering samples and talking about dirt. They could have gone on and on. (The mark of excellent scientists!) However, it was getting late and even though summer is still in the air, it was a school night. The last part of the investigation was to remind children to wash their hands and clean off all the dirt. So, although it was bedtime, I bent the rules a little bit and lured the boys out front the driveway. I turned on the hose and chased the boys around until their hands and the rest of their little cute selves were drenched and cleaned off. The squeals and giggles were the perfect end to our “dirty” investigation. Summer lives on for a bit longer.
Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by an activity? What kinds of fun adventures are you planning for the end of the summer?

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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