Years ago, when I first started teaching the soil unit, I was looking for a way to make it more exciting. The importance of soil structure is often lost on students, and I finally came up with a great idea: Soil Cake, modeled after the popular Dirt Cake my mom makes, a mixture of pudding, cake and whipped cream.
Here’s how I make it, from bottom to top:
- graham cracker crumbs- parent mineral material/ C horizon
- butterscotch pudding- subsoil/ B horizon
- graham cracker crumbs- eluviation layer/ E horizon
- chocolate cake mixed with chocolate pudding, gummy worms hidden within- topsoil/ A horizon
- crushed oreos- humus/ O horizon
- dyed green cool whip and green sprinkles- plant material
- gummy worms on top
It’s important to do this in a clear dish, so that you can see the layers. It’s a great way to demonstrate the horizons of the soil, and you can modify it to look like the soil in your area. I include thick layer of topsoil, because the chocolate is everyone’s favorite.
Another option is to have all the ingredients, and let people assemble it on their own so they can learn the layers as they make it. I’ve done that before, but carting it separately into school was a pain, so I’ve gone back to this version.
Last year, when I was buying the ingredients to make these models, the teenage cashier asked what I was making. When I explained it to her, she said “I wish you were my teacher!” That made my day.