In the United Kingdom, the Department of Education is responsible for setting the learning guidelines for state school students, which it lays out in the National Curriculum. According to the curriculum, students in years 3 through 6, who are typically between the ages 7 and 11, comprise the learning group KS2, which is short for Key Stage 2. The learning objectives for students comprising KS2 include learning about science, and, more specifically, different types of soils.
National Curriculum Requirement
The science portion of the National Curriculum for KS2 students has three different sections: life processes and living things; physical processes, and materials and their properties. This last section, which concerns materials, contains the requirement that students learn about soil types. As the National Curriculum states, an objective of all KS2 students is to "describe and group rocks and soils on the basis of their characteristics, including appearance, texture and permeability."
KS2 Bitesize is an online educational resource from the British Broadcasting Company (BBC). The resource, which is available on BBC's website, is aimed at helping students at the KS2 level with their studies. Features include quizzes, games and text that cover different academic subject areas, including English, math and science. Within the science section are three subcategories, which mimic the three required science sections of the KS2 National Curriculum. These subcategories are living things, physical processes and materials. Within the materials subcategory, there is information on the types and characteristics of soil.
Soils are complex materials, and scientists often classify them using systems that are too advanced for students between 7 and 11 years old. For example, while limnosols, histosols, alfisols and ultisols are all different soil types, explaining their differences may not be relevant to students at a KS2 level. The BBC's KS2 Bitesize resource classifies soils into four basic types, which are easy for KS2 students to understand. These soil types are sandy soils, which are light-coloured, have lots of air gaps and easily dry out; clay soils, which are bluish or orange in colour, have few air gaps and do not drain water easily; chalky soils, which are light brown and drain water rapidly; and peat, which contains no mineral particles but instead consists entirely of decayed organic matter.
Apart from simply reading about soil types, the National Curriculum requires that KS2 students explore scientific topics actively and creatively. This involves forming hypotheses, conducting experiments and obtaining, presenting and evaluating scientific evidence. When teaching about soils, KS2 teachers might have students measure which types of soil can retain the most water, or which types can retain water for the longest amount of time. Other ideas include having students separate and identify the particles comprising soils or having them grow plants in soils to determine which soil types are the most fertile.