In this lesson plan, children explore how sand and soil behave when mixed with water. Children begin by watching a video in which George decides to build a snowman, but it’s summertime, so he has a clever idea to use mud and soil! Next, children children explore the Dry Table to see how sand and soil look, smell and touch. Then, they move on to explore at the Wet Table where they investigate how the sand and soil change when they are mixed with water. As children go through the activities, they will be using the following science skills: asking questions, testing and retesting, and identifying and describing sensory observations.
- Understand that there are many different types of “dirt,” including sand and soil.
- Understand that sand and soil look and feel different.
- Understand that sand and soil behave differently when mixed with water.
- Understand that sand and soil can be used as building materials when mixed with water.
Prep for Teachers
Set up a Dry Table and a Wet Table. Give a plate of sand and a plate of soil (small amount) to each child. At the Dry Table, these plates can be reused by the next group of children. At the Wet Table, the wet sand and soil will need to be dumped and new sand and soil provided for the next group of children.
For Both the Dry Table and the Wet Table
- Curious George signs: Dry Sand, Dry Soil and Wet Sand, Wet Soil
- Bag of topsoil (not potting soil)
- Bag of play sand
- Disposable plastic dinner plates (2 per child, plus some extras; can be used with multiple children.)
- Craft sticks and/or plastic forks
For Just the Wet Table
- Small containers of water
- Plastic eyedroppers (inexpensive, child-friendly sets can be ordered online or purchased at local school supply stores)
- Bucket of water (or sink) and paper towels for cleaning hands
- Bucket for dumping wet sand and soil
- Background Photos: sandy desert, mud puddles, plants in garden soil, adobe houses, making adobe bricks, sand sculptures
- Magnifying lenses (optional)
1. At the Dry Table
Introduce children to the sand and soil at the dry table. Have them look, smell, and touch as they compare. (Children may want to use the magnifying lenses.) Ask:
- What things can you see in the soil? What things can you see in the sand?
- What does the soil feel like? What does it smell like? How about the sand? Do you think you could tell the difference with your eyes closed?
- What happens when you squeeze the soil in your fist? Does it stay together? How about the sand? What could you add to sand to make it hold together better?
Invite children to do the following things with the dry sand and soil, then talk about the results.
- Make tracks with fingers, stick, and fork
- Make a hill and dig a hole
2. At the Wet Table
Have kids move to the Wet Table. Have them add drops of water to a plate of sand and a plate of soil. Ask:
- What do you notice?
- How does adding water change the look and feel of the soil? Of the sand?
- Try to make a mud pie with the soil. Do you need more water?
- Build something with the sand. Do you need more water?
- What happens if you add too much water? Try it.
3. George Builds a “Snowman”
Tell children that they are now going to watch Curious George explore wet soil just like they did. Show the Curious George: Sand and Soil video. Ask, How did George make mud? Why was George’s mud ball not sticking together well? How did Mrs. Renkins help George make the mud ball more sticky?
Extend with Games
- “Day at the Beach” Help Curious George make sandcastles by helping him choose the right mixture of sand and water.
Extend with Books
- Curious George Goes to the Beach (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999). George and the man with the yellow hat go to the beach! George has fun at the beach until seagulls fly away with something valuable—George must find a clever way to save the day!