Sand & Soil

Find out what happens when you mix sand and soil with water.

  • Target Age:  3-5 
  • Subject: earth science, problem solving
  • Related Episode: Snow Use


  • Bag of top soil (not potting soil)
  • Bag of play sand
  • Disposable plastic dinner plates
  • Craft sticks and/or plastic forks
  • Small containers of water
  • Eyedroppers (or small containers)


  1. Playing with dry sand & soil
    Give a plate of sand and a plate of soil (small amount) to your kids. Have them look, smell, and touch as they compare. 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?
    Together with your kids, do the following things with the dry sand and soil, then talk about the different results.
    • Make tracks with fingers, stick, and fork
    • Make a hill
    • Dig a hole
  2. Playing with wet sand & soil
    Have your kids add drops of water to their plates of sand and their plates of dirt. Ask:
    • What do you notice?
    • How does adding water change the look and feel of the soil?
    • How does adding water change the look and feel 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?
    After kids have had a chance to build, have them add a little more water to the soil and the sand. What happens to their mud pie and their sand structure?

Take it Further

Gather items with holes to use as bubble wands: slotted spoons, funnels, fly swatters, plastic soda can six-pack holders, etc. Wave or blow through the "wands" and look at the bubbles. Ask: How are the bubbles from each wand the same? How are they different? Are the bubbles connected or single? Does the size of the openings in the wand make a difference in the size of the bubbles?

More Ways to Discover and Learn

Look in a Book:

  • Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin
  • The Piggy in the Puddleby Charlotte Pomerantz


Find more activities featuring your child’s favorite PBS KIDS character!