Photo of a soil profile

I (Kiley) know I made this exhibit at the Dickinson County Nature Center, but this might be the most boring thing I’ve ever written.

Thirty-six inches down in our soil, you will find loam which is characterized by common, fine, distinct brownish yellow mottles, a weak fine prismatic structure…yikes. It continues but I won’t bore you with the rest.

I know your toddler isn’t reading that. I know you’re 10-year-old isn’t reading that. I’m guessing you haven’t read it. Some soil scientist somewhere might find it interesting.

The basic premise is, the deeper you go in our soil, the more it changes. From clay all the way down to sand and rock.

Photo of soil profile

What’s neat is, the way the soil changes also differs on where you dig. In Kenue Park’s 70 acres, we have a variety of types of land — an oak savanna, a glacial kame, a wetland and a prairie. Dig around, and you’ll find different types of dirt in each, just yards away from each other.

I want you to encourage your kids to dig today. Go for a walk with a hand trowel and stop along the trail to see how the dirt changes depending on the sun, moisture level, plants that are there, the development that is there.

The oak savanna here has deep black soil, which was pretty moist after the rains last night.

Photo of dirt in an oak savanna

Oak savanna dirt

The glacial kame — which is made of sediment left behind when glaciers receded in the Des Moines lobe — has sandy soil, complete with rocks in some areas.

Photo of glacial kame dirt

Glacial kame dirt

The wetland soil is, you guessed it, wet. Rich, black and moist is the perfect mixture for wetland plants.

Photo of wetland dirt

Wetland dirt

The prairie soil was the hardest to dig into. Full of deep roots and a heavy clay the prairie soil is tough and durable.

Photo of prairie clay

Prairie dirt

Want an extra challenge to your digging activity? Bring back a few different soil samples, add water and use them to create a mud painting. Different types of soil give you different shades. See what your kids come up with!Photo of a little girl painting with mudCheck out our blog each week for more fun outdoor kids activities!

 

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2 Comments

  1. Maureen Reeves Horsley on March 19, 2019 at 9:01 am

    RICH IOWA SOIL PAINTING. WONDERFUL idea for Grma camp☺

    • kiley on March 19, 2019 at 9:02 am

      Feel free to share pictures if you try it!

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