This morning while at the park we took the time for a little impromptu lesson on soil erosion. The park that we most recently discovered had a little creek that we originally went to looking for tadpoles to begin our week of ‘F’ is for frog. We didn’t find any tadpoles, but we did see a lot of really neat tree roots where the soil had been washed away from the creek water.
Mack was very curious and interested as to how the roots were above the ground near the creek. I explained to him how rain water and melted snow flows down creeks, washing away the soil and exposing the tree roots. He seemed to understand the concept a little bit so we decided to explore the idea a bit further in our own backyard on a smaller scale!
When I envisioned this project it was with a sloped paint tray as I thought that would have been perfect, but I couldn’t find one so went with a flat plastic bin lid instead. Mack and Ava helped me scoop some dirt onto the lid. We found some old roots in our garden and buried them in the dirt. We then shaped the pile into a mountain and a creek bed with the roots alongside the creek and placed some plastic trees from his train set on top of the buried roots so that we could re-create the erosion that we witnessed at the park.
We first experimented with what a gentle rain shower would do to the soil by pouring water on the mountain with a watering can. We noticed that it ran down the ‘creek’ nicely, slowly taking some of the dirt with it.
Mack then wanted to see what a thunderstorm would do to our creek. We used the hose to spray water on the top of our mountain. We noticed that this eroded our soil much faster!
Our creekbeds flooded and the soil began to disappear. It exposed the ‘roots’ alongside the creek just like we had seen at the park this morning!
This was the perfect little experiment to help Mack really understand what I could only explain to him with words this morning. I love hands-on-learning so much for this very reason!
Check out these great books for more earth science inspiration:
Of course we took full advantage of our flood and played and jumped in our muddy puddles!
I don’t think Ava gathered anything about erosion but she definitely learned that she loves to play in the mud- just like her Momma!
We are planning on doing this experiment on ice erosion tomorrow! We will get to our frogs at some point 🙂
For more ideas, check out my Toddler Science board on Pinterest!