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Scoop on Soils Program Resources

Recommended Reading

Image result for muddy maxMuddy Max: The Mystery of Marsh Creek by Elizabeth Rusch illustrations by Mike Lawrence
Grades: 4-6
Lexile Level: not available

Selected because
Graphic novel about a boy who gets superpowers when muddy. Some information about soil as a system. Format accessible for alternative learning styles, and may provide a hook for students to wonder about soil  
Limitations: Book is mostly an action story, not science heavy. Bullying issue doesn't get resolved.
 (Can be addressed as a jumping off point for additional soil research and story extensions)

Suggested activities:
Many of the organisms that live in soil are addressed in this book. Conduct additional research and make a soil ecosystem food web. Do different organisms have different soil habitat needs?

Have students think about soil particles. Would sandy mud endow different superpowers than clayey mud? Have students bring different soil samples from outside of school, assess their texture, and use the particle characteristics to create new superpowers for Max.

Additional activities included in the back of the book, including: Soil Close-up (examining a soil sample), Make Some Mud (exploratory activity mixing water and soil), Breathing Mud Creatures (testing living creatures in soil), learning about Antoni Gaudi and making drip sculptures, Making Mud Bricks, and Ancient and Modern Mud Houses. 
Image result for planting the trees of kenya the story of wangari maathaiPlanting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire A. Nivola
Grades: K-3rd
Lexile Level: AD870L

Selected because
True story of human use changing the land – desertification in Kenya – and the subsequent halting of that issue via the efforts of local women planting trees. Value of soil intrinsic to the story, as is erosion caused by lack of vegetation.

Suggested activities:
Prior to reading, make a water and soil map of the schoolyard. Where do students see bare soil? Where do they see evidence of water (gutters, downspouts, stormdrains…) Are there any connections between bare soil and water? Read the story and revisit the maps/schoolyard. Why do students think the soil is bare in places? What are the possible consequences? How could they help?