Discovering Dirt in Second Grade

Recently, Mount Madonna School (MMS) second grade students spent time outdoors “discovering dirt.” Students studied different soil types, and learned about soil’s important role in food growth.

Second grade teacher Prema Gammons remarked that learning about soil is a bridge between studying geography and fossils in science and food growth and distribution in social studies.

“We start with a lesson on the three primary categories of soil: sand, silt, clay, and the mixture of all three – loam. We then discuss how their properties help or hurt food growth,” said Gammons.

“Loam is best for growing food because it lets the water drain well,” observed second grader Luiza Ocampo-Sobkoviak.

After learning about the types of soil, the second grade class went on a hike around the MMS campus.

“I encourage students to look at what is nearby- water flowing or whether it is dry. We then talk about what is growing there, if anything, like ferns or grasses” said Gammons.

“I saw lots of ferns growing in the sand by the bridge,” commented student Arias Aguirre.

Next, students took soil samples around campus including the elementary bus stop and the lake by digging six inches and taking a small amount of soil found.

“The soil by our tree at the bus stop was really, really hard to dig because it was sand and clay mixed,” remarked student Jasper Magill.

At the lake, each student dug down six inches and added water to their soil sample to see what type of soil it was; because the samples were easy to mold into a small ball upon adding water, students realized the soil was clay.

“Students had so much fun discovering the clay and making shapes after digging,” remarked Gammons. “I know they will remember the different characteristics of soil and I imagine in the future they will not just see dirt when they encounter soil because of this activity!”


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 375 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.