Underground Teaching Resources for Stewarding the Soil

Soil. It’s everywhere, but few people take notice of this incredible resource right beneath our feet. When people do notice the soil, they often see it as something to avoid. “Don’t get dirty,” they warn young children. With these underground resources, you (and your children) can get all the dirt on soil.

Children’s Picture Books

  • Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt is a beautiful picture book by Kate Messner that takes readers on a journey above and below the ground, highlighting living things that depend on, and are integral part of, the soil.
  • Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table: I would be remiss if I didn’t include this biography of a hero from my hometown of Milwaukee, WI.
  • Yucky Worms  by Vivian French is a unique and accurate tale about the creatures under our feet who churn the Earth and aren’t yucky at all.


  • healthy food from healthy soils (Grades K-1) is a hands on resource for early childhood educators. I picked up this resource from the Bay Area Environmental Education Resource (BAEER) Fair years ago. Published by Tilbury House (Patten 2003), it offers developmentally appropriate lessons for the littlest soil stewards.
  • Soil Stories is a free, downloadable resource excerpted from Life Lab Science for Grade 2. Get it here.
  • From the Ground Up: The Science of Soil (Grades 3-5) is an offering from the Nutrients for Life Foundation.
  • Growing Food (Grades 4-6) is an inquiry-based science and nutrition program that comes from Teachers College at Columbia University and published with National Gardening Association.

Educational Exhibits

  • Soil Born Farms offers education that empowers youth and adults to discover and participate in a local food system that encourages healthy living, nurtures the environment and grows a sustainable community. They offer site visits, field trips, camps and after school enrichment.
  • University of Puget Sound hosted an interdisciplinary exhibition called Dirt? that featured natural history specimens, artist books and poems selected from an international call for entries.
  • FAO’s Global Soil Partnership held an Art exhibition called “Heart and Soil,” which showcased the critical role soil plays in food security, ecosystem health and sustainable development.


  • Dig It! offers a virtual tour of the Smithsonian exhibit, videos, and online interactive activities. I love the links to “Soil Explorers” section, which features practicing scientists (professional and youth) who study soil.
  • Symphony of the Soil “is an artistic exploration of the miraculous substance soil. By understanding the elaborate relationships and mutuality between soil, water, the atmosphere, plants and animals, we come to appreciate the complex and dynamic nature of this precious resource.”
  • DIRT! The Movie sheds light on environmental, economic, social and political impact that the soil has.

Nonprofit Organizations

  • Kiss the Ground “empowers people to restore soil and helps accelerate the adoption of regenerative agriculture.”
  • The Land Institute was founded over 40 years ago in Kansas to foster an ecological approach to soil conservation.
  • The Soil Science Society is an international organization dedicated to the transfer of knowledge and practice that advances global soil protection. They also publish State Soil Booklets for K-12 educators.

It’s no surprise that many of the organizations most concerned with soil health are in the Midwest. Why? Because it is the heartland of what was once our most fertile growing area. Want more? Check out Food Tank list of 22 organizations working to restore soil. 

I recently heard a great talk by a farmer who said, “Dirt is what you clean from under your fingernails. Soil is what feeds us.”  This Healthy Soil Guide takes the challenge literally and provides a better recipe for soil stewardship.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Alex says:

    I’m now not positive the place you’re getting your info, but great topic. I must spend a while learning more or figuring out more. Thank you for excellent info I used to be in search of this info for my mission.


    1. Hi Alex,
      Can you please clarify what you mean by “I’m now not positive the place you’re getting your info…” I’d like to reply, but I can’t tell if you mean you want to know how I found out about the topic or if you disagree. Thank you for reading.


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