Teaching overview

Learning points

  • Soil is a mixture of rock particles, organic matter, air and water.
  • Soil is formed over many years when rock is broken down into small particles.
  • Plants get many vital nutrients from soil.

Curriculum keywords

  • Soil
  • Nutrients
  • Bacteria

5 things you didn't know

What is soil?

1. Soil is made up of the remains of dead plants and animals, as well as pieces of rock, trapped air and water.


2. There are more living things in a square metre of soil than there are people on Earth! These include worms, insects, centipedes, fungi, and lots and lots of bacteria.

Forming soil

3. A 2cm layer of soil takes more than 500 years to form!

Soil layers

4. Soil is made up of five main layers, known as horizons. The upper layers are full of nutrients, while lower layers are rocky.


5. Soil provides nutrients for plants to grow. This means that when soil quality is very poor, it can be difficult to grow enough plants to provide people with the food they need.

Spark a discussion

  • How is soil made?
  • What kinds of creatures have you found in soil?
  • Are there any parts of Earth where there is no soil? How does this affect what lives there?

Explore our resources

Complete your lesson with teaching resources on soil from Tigtag.

Go to Tigtag

Discover free online CPD for primary science from Reach Out CPD.

Go to Reach Out CPD