Life Lab

Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

Soil Shake from http://www.spiritwoodnaturalbuilding.com

Soil SHake

Discover the makeup of a soil you collect, by shaking it in a jar with water and seeing how the layers of soil particles settle out. Age 5+; 10 minutes, then 24 hours wait, then 10-15 minutes.

Is the soil near your home a clay-heavy soil? Or a sandy soil? Or a balanced loam, coveted by any gardener? Soil is made up of rock particles of different sizes. The smallest particles are clay, the middle size silt, and the largest particles are sand. The proportion of each of these categories of particles affects how your soil feels, looks, acts when it’s wet, and how well plants grow in it. For example, soil with a high proportion of clay is hard to dig, and soil with a high proportion of sand tends to dry out quickly. The most ideal garden soil, loam, has about 40% sand, 40% silt, and 20% clay. Knowing the makeup of your soil can help you figure out how to make it better (for example, adding plentiful compost improves either sandy or clay soil!). 

For this activity, you’ll need a tall jar (such as a quart mason jar, a pickle jar, or even a clear water bottle), a trowel, and a funnel (or piece of paper rolled into a funnel shape) if your jar has a narrow mouth. A plastic jar or water bottle may be preferable if you are working with young children, since they will be shaking the jar and perhaps dropping it! Help the kids fill the jar ⅔ with water. Then bring the jar, trowel, and funnel if needed to the nearest place with exposed soil where you can take a sample. Let the kids take turns scooping soil and adding it to the jar until it is nearly full. Cap the jar and let the kids take turns shaking it until they are satisfied that it is completely shaken up (it won’t hurt to shake it extra, luckily!). Then find a place to set the jar where everyone can see it and it can stay undisturbed for 24 hours. Ask the kids what they notice about what’s in the jar. What does it look like? What do they see happening? (The largest particles will settle out right away, but the smallest may take hours). Come back 24 hours later to see the soil completely layered in the jar. The layers may be different colors or all the same color; you’ll know the difference between the layers by the size of the particles you see. The bottom layer with a grainy appearance is the sand; the middle layer is silt; and the top layer of fine particles is clay. You may see organic matter (such as pieces of leaves) layered on top of that, or floating. You could have the kids draw the layers, and/or compare them to a chart like this.

If desired, you could dig further into how to improve your particular type of soil with an internet search; and your kids could be a part of putting your plan into action.

Also, if your kids are interested, they could collect another soil sample from a different setting, make another soil “shake” and compare the results.

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2 days ago

Life Lab

🌱 Become a Life Lab Certified Educator!🌱

We only have 3 spots left in our new School Garden Educator Certification Program! Sign-up today for the entire series of courses or for individual courses by visiting website, link below. Our first course, Building Connections in the Garden, starts with asynchronous work on January 21st and our first synchronous session will be on January 28th from 3:30 – 5:00 PST. You may continue to sign up through January 27th or until all spots are filled. If needed, we highly encourage you to join the waitlist to get priority registration for our next cohort in the fall of 2021 or should there become spots available.

Upon completion of the 4 courses, participants will receive a certificate and the distinction of being a Life Lab-Certified Garden Educator. Each course will last approximately 8 weeks long and include 4 synchronous meetings, at-home work, and a unique coaching model tailored to each individual’s needs.

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

Looking to 2021 with a magnified view of our impact on nature and our connections with each other. A healthy garden is a diverse and sustainable ecosystem full of wonder and beauty in all seasons. #LifeLab #2021 #gardeneducation #science #bettertogether See MoreSee Less

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4 weeks ago

Life Lab

At the beginning of the year, Life Lab launched our Healthy Futures campaign in response to the financial impact of COVID on our programs. We are grateful for our continued partnerships and our resilient staff who had to reimagine our work and how to best serve our local and national communities. The innovative outcome of this process includes new resources such as Next Generation Science in the Garden Curriculum, Life Lab Educator Garden Certification Program, Life Lab Webinar Series, Back Pocket Learning, and more!

2021 is full of potential and positivity, however……

🌱 WE STILL NEED YOUR HELP! 🌱

Our 2020 annual operating budget is $1,300,000 and we’re almost there!!! We are only $12,223 away meeting that goal! Click here ow.ly/FP0950CSIlg to help us reach our before the end of the year. Remember, every little bit goes a long way! 💚

For more information about our Healthy Futures campaign please visit here ow.ly/jwKh50CSIlf. See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

The Life Lab Garden Educators just finished building and installing brand new veggie boxes at one of our partner schools, in Watsonville!!! Can’t wait to see these flourish! 🌱🥕🐝🌻#gardensofgratitude See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

The Life Lab Garden Educators just finished building and installing brand new veggie boxes at one of our partner schools, in Watsonville!!! Can’t wait to see these flourish! 🌱🥕🐝🌻#gardensofgratitude See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

🌱 Become a Life Lab Certified Educator! 🌱

Life Lab is excited to announce our new School Garden Educator Certification Program!

We’ve put together a series of 4 on-line courses that will guide and support educators in becoming a Life Lab-Certified School Garden Educator. Upon completion of the 4 courses, participants will receive a certificate and the distinction of being a Life Lab-Certified Garden Educator.

Each course will last approximately 8 weeks long and include 4 synchronous meetings, at-home work, and a unique coaching model. It is also possible to sign-up for individual courses separately to learn specific content or brush up on one topic that meets the needs of your program.

Registration for the full certification series opens today, December 7th. Click the link below

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1 month ago

Life Lab

Join us today at 1pm with nutritionist, @jocelyndubin MS, RD for a healthy conversation about nutrition especially during the holidays and the benefits of eating a rainbow. Register at LifeLab.org/events Link is also in our bio #foodismedicine #teachthekids #eatarainbow #LifeLab #schoolgardens See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Life Lab is thrilled to announce the launch of 3 new Next Generation Science in the Garden curriculum units for grades K-2🐝 These units are aligned to #NGSS and written by Life Lab staff supported by experienced classroom teachers and piloted with over 8,000 students across 12 schools. For more info go to LifeLab.org/ngsscurriculum See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Bee a pollinator for Life Lab and donate today! #givingtuesday 🐝 LifeLab.org/donate #supportschoolgardens #gardeneducation #natureisthebestteacher See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Food is medicine! Join us December 6th at 1pm for our next webinar focused on healthy eating choices during the holidays. Learn about nutrition and the benefits of eating a rainbow with @jocelyndubin free registration link in our bio #foodismedicine #organic #delicious #nutricious #gardeneducation #webinar #LifeLab See MoreSee Less

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Life Lab provides truly inspiring training. Their breadth of experience, joy for teaching, and commitment to sharing knowledge highlight the best practices in food and garden education.
Erica CurryTraining and Professional Development ManagerFoodCorps
Thank you for such a wonderful field trip experience! Your leaders did such a great job at keeping our kids engaged.
Sheila BrickenKindergarten TeacherSan Lorenzo Valley Elementary
Terry had another awesome two weeks at Life Lab. I think he learns more there than in any other part of his year. School is great, but he’s passionate (and often dogmatic) about what he learns there.
Tara NeierCamp ParentSummer camp mom
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