Register with GEF for FREE to enjoy these great benefits! 

    • member only contests and raffles

    • sustainability program news and updates

    • significant discounts at GEF Institute

Note: If you have problems registering, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Taking a GEF Institute Course? Login by clicking here.






Join Us

Sign Up for National Green Week!
Please note: Your privacy is very important to GEF. We do not share or sell any of your data.  It is with the sole purpose of providing you with relevant information that GEF will contact you.

Welcome to the Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Here, you can find free sustainability lessons to use in your class and upload your own lessons to share. Be sure to rate the lessons you use and leave comments for your colleagues!

All of GEF's lessons and programs are offered at no cost.  Become a member to support GEF and enjoy member only benefits! 
Join button_03

Professional Development

GEFinstitute LOGO_WEB GEF Institute offers affordable, online sustainability courses eligible for professional development or academic credit.
Give your resume a boost!

Sponsor a Teacher

Support educators in your community by helping them earn a Certificate in Sustainability or take an online course. Find out more about sponsorship!
Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Soil Sleuthing

Lesson Description:
Students will determine how well a variety of seedlings grow in different types of soil

Eco-fact: soil is a combination of materials, both living and nonliving. one part of soil is broken down rock. Another is organic matter made up of decaying plants and animals. Water and air are also a part of soil. these materials help support plant life by providing them with nutrients, water, and air. soil also keeps their roots in the ground.

  1. make a sandy soil mixture by mixing 4 oz sand with 4 oz potting soil
  2. make a peat moss soil mixture by mixing 4 oz peat moss with 4 oz potting soil
  3. set aside 8 oz. plain potting soil
  4. divide the sandy mixture into 4 compartments in the seed-starting flat. label as “sandy” with masking tape.
  5. divide the peat moss mixture into 4 compartment in the seed-starting flat. label as “peat moss” with masking tape.
  6. divide the plain potting soil into 4 compartments in the seed-starting flat. label as “plain soil” with masking tape.
  7. place 2 carrot seeds in one out of the four sandy-mixture compartments
  8. repeat this process with the peat-soil mixture and the plain soil mixture.
  9. write “carrot” on 3 popsicle sticks and insert each into the carrot compartments
  10. repeat this entire process with the broccoli seeds, radish seeds, and lavender seeds.
  11. make sure to mark each seed placement with a labeled popsicle stick
  12. water each compartment and place the seed-starting flats in a warm place, such as on top of a refrigerator.
  13. water the flat every few days
  14. in about a week or week and a half, the seeds will begin to sprout. monitor their progress. What do you see? are certain seeds plants more productive than others? Do you notice similarities among plants in one type of soil?

  • use compost as one of the mixture elements
  • take a nature walk and collect soil from your backyard, from the forest, from the side of a pond. Grow the seedlings in these soils.

Lesson Type:
  • Discussion
  • Experiment
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Gardening

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Thumb Challenge

Time Needed:
One hour
Materials Needed:
  • 8 ounces of potting soil
  • 4 ounces sand
  • 4 ounces peat moss
  • seed-starting flats with 12 planting compartments
  • 1 seed package each of: carrot seeds, broccoli seeds, radishes, lavender
  • 12 popsicle sticks
  • masking tape
  • markers or pens

School or Group:
Contact Email:
Located in: Science

The Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse is brought to you in partnership with

Center for Green Schools