No soil, no life.
The proclamation was made by one of our Marvelously Made children as we were wondering and thinking about what soil is and why we need it. Initially other children declared that this could not be true. Teachers listened as the children continued to discuss and watched as the truth of this statement dawned on each one of them.
Today, December 5, has been declared by the United Nations as World Soil Day. A day to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.
We don’t often think about soil… except to banish it from our clothes and homes. In our gardens, plants get all the glory, but it is the soil that makes it all possible. Healthy soil is needed to grow plants which are the foundation of our food chain, provide textiles we use to make clothing, and materials we use to build our homes. No soil, no food, clothing, or shelter.
We should give thanks every day for the soil beneath our feet!
The children at Marvelously Made have spent the last three months exploring soil in the garden. They started by digging, planting, and observing the soil, magnifying glasses in hand. Then the wondering started: Why do some soils feel different? Why are some soils different colors? What is soil made of? Good questions were in endless supply. Some of the older students did some research and shared that soil is 5% organic matter, 25% air, 25% water, 45% minerals. A variety of crushing tools, organic matter, and minerals were provided and they had the opportunity to make their own soil. When they noticed their soils were different, they learned to test them to determine what type of soils they had made, and what type of soil is best for growing.
After observing soil and thinking about its importance, many children commented that it is a good thing the whole earth is made of soil.
But is it?
They began to think about all the other things that cover the earth’s surface: water, ice, deserts, roads, buildings. In actuality, 92.5 of the earth’s surface is covered with these other things. This leaves only 7.5% of the earth with the soil needed to sustain life.
Because of scarcity, it is vitally important we take care of the soil we have, but the majority of available soil is degraded or heavily degraded. While looking at a soil map, one of our oldest students noticed that areas with the most degraded soil had a high level of poverty.
Wondering what was happening to the soil led to hands-on experiments on erosion and pollution. Children began to notice areas of erosion and pollution in their own environments, and thinking about what they could do about it.
The older group created posters to educate families in our school about the importance of protecting soil. We can all help by adding organic matter to soil, correcting drainage issues that lead to erosion, planting cover crops to cover bare soil, properly disposing of chemicals, and taking care not to over-fertilize our lawns.
These children were created for different times than ours and we value providing them with opportunities to spend time in nature exploring, observing, and wondering. They are better served by letting them interact with the world as we step back and ask the wondering questions at just the right times.
When they experience nature themselves, children’s intrinsic desire to protect it unfolds.
Plant seeds of wonder in children and let their questions take root in their souls and grow with them. They will bloom as part of a generation with the heart and passion to protect the world they will inherit.
The future of our world is in good hands!