Home Works Elementary Education Distance Learning Curriculum

Developed by Courtney K.

Edited by Maggie M.

Photo of Courtney K

Essential Question:

How does the movement of water through soil help people know where they want to build things? 

Background Knowledge:

Children will need to know that water (from rain or other sources) flows down into the soil in the ground. This is precipitation. 

Children should know that soil is commonly referred to as dirt. We walk on the soil. 


  • Two clear (see-through) containers 
  • Water 
  • Soil from two different places outside to fill the cups 
  • Timer 
  • Paper to record your findings 

Safety Protocols:

  • If the transparent (clear) containers are glass, be careful not to drop them. Also, make sure you have permission to use them. 
  • Be sure that the water and soil are not around any objects that they can damage. 

Activity Procedure:

You are building a treehouse in your yard, but you need to know what kind of material you will need to use. This is dependent on the soil type that you have at home. Time to test it! 

Step 1: Gather all materials.

Step 2: Collect soil from two different places in the yard. Fill the containers halfway with each soil sample.

Which soil sample do you believe will let more water flow through it?

Step 3: Place each container on a paper towel, napkin, or newspaper. You could also stay outside to complete the activity!

Step 4: Record your predictions on a piece of paper. Before pouring water, label the container that you believe will let the most water flow around its soil with a 1. Then, label the container you believe will have less water flow around its’ soil with a 2. Grab a little bit of each soil and make observations about the soil.

Does it feel slippery? Gritty? What does it look like? Smell like? Write your observations under the numbers you have written.

Step 5: Pour half of your water into each cup and observe while you are pouring. Write your observations on your chart.

Is the soil absorbing most of the water? Does it seem to hold water above its surface? Does it get wet and hold more water?

Step 6: Let the soil and water sit for 3 minutes. Come back and record any different observations you might make.

Which of your two soils seems to absorb the most water? 

Are your soils the same or different? 

Was your original hypothesis correct? (Did sample 1 allow the most water to flow?)

If your soils are different, which one seems better to build on? If they are the same, does this soil seem like a good building spot? 

Step 8: With parent/guardian permission, share the results of your activity on social media using #AUHomeWorks!

Water FlowSample 1Sample 2
Observations before adding water
Observations after adding water

Last modified: November 12, 2020