LEARNING ACTIVITY
Investigating the soil food web
Category: Biodiversity
Climate Region: Arid | Temperate | Tropical
State or Territory: ACT | NSW | NT | QLD | SA | TAS | VIC | WA
Age Range: 7-13

STORY

Suyin’s Grandfather asked if she would help him with the farm over the school holidays. Suyin didn’t need to be asked twice! Suyin found going to the farm and getting her hands dirty a lot of fun. “Soil, Suyin darling, it’s more than just dirt”. She could already hear her Grandfather repeat one of his favourite phrases. What treasures will Suyin find on her visit this time? Suyin is helping her Grandfather in his garden, moving a pile of old mulch. Excitedly, she finds what looks like spider webs growing through the twigs. It is the mycelium of a fungus, recycling the organic material. She wanted to look more closely and take a photo, so she ran inside to grab her magnifying glass and mobile phone. Suyin would later ask her Grandfather about what mycelium is, and how fungi help to break down organic matter.

ACTIVITY OVERVIEW

Soil is much more than just dirt. In this activity, our learners will be conducting an investigation to see which animals and other organisms are recycling nutrients in the garden.

These organisms make up the soil food web, which includes microscopic bacteria, fungi, minute creatures such as springtails, worms, pill-bugs and other creatures we see in leaf litter. This activity invites children to delve under the surface to look for the organisms in the soil and make connections to their role in recycling nutrients.

Outcomes

For children to:

  • explore a sample of soil searching for living things
  • identify elements of the soil food web
  • understand that healthy soil relies on a diverse range of organisms to recycle nutrients
  • use tools to magnify soil sample and identify living things.
SEASONAL NOTES

Soil food webs are at their most obvious in warm, moist soil with a significant compost layer. This activity is best conducted during a wetter time of year. If it is hot where you live, this should be a morning activity because the organisms you are investigating may be damaged or dry out from too much exposure to heat.

Did you know?

Springtails have a special appendage on their abdomen to help them jump. They can jump as high as 20 times their length. That is equivalent to an average human jumping 30 metres into the air.

Did you know?

Fungi is neither a plant, nor an animal. It grows like a plant, but eats like an animal, breaking its food down with enzymes.

Did you know?

The largest living thing on earth is fungi. It is 5.5km wide and lives in a forest in North America called Armillaria solidipes – or Honey Fungus.

Did you know?

Springtails have a special appendage on their abdomen to help them jump. They can jump as high as 20 times their length. That is equivalent to an average human jumping 30 metres into the air.

We value your feedback

When you have finished this learning activity, please tell us what you think with our survey.
Your feedback will help Landcare Australia improve the activities in the Junior Landcare Learning Centre.

Share your Junior Landcare photos with us!

Please submit your Junior Landcare photos using this form.
  • Accepted file types: jpg, png, gif.
    Maximum file size allowed is 2MB. All photos submitted will be reviewed before they are published on our website.

Why not try one of our other Junior Landcare learning activities?

Creating a wildlife habitat: research

Biodiversity

Creating a wildlife habitat: vision

Biodiversity

Creating a wildlife habitat: design

Biodiversity

Creating a wildlife habitat: planting

Biodiversity