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Starting with Soil

Starting with Soil

How can we show children that soil – which many may consider to be simply dirt under their feet – is a living system full of healthy, reciprocal, and fascinating relationships? The answers come to life in the new tablet-based app, Starting with Soil, now available free in the App Store and via Google Play.

App Store

Google Play

With animation, interactivity, and sound effects, Starting with Soil demonstrates how plants and animals cooperate to make the soil we need to grow healthy food. 

Kids learn that soil starts with bare rock and discover how long it takes nature to make one inch of topsoil. (Spoiler alert: it takes 500 years!) Different chapters convey the importance of pollinators and the critical roles animals, the weather, microorganisms, and cover crops play in organic farming. 

Designed for students ages 7-9 and their families, Starting with Soil allows users to plant seeds, build a compost pile, drag a microscope over different organisms in soil to get a better look, and view the symbiosis at work when corn, beans, and squash are planted together, as Native Americans have done for centuries. 

Slow motion video allows kids to behold bees pollinating and butterflies extracting nectar with startling zeal. Time lapse photography captures the way apple, radish, and bean seeds become seedlings that burst through topsoil in vibrant color. Nematodes, algae, and protozoa make cameo appearances. 

Teachers will appreciate Starting with Soil as high quality supplemental content that kids can easily use on their own, or in conjunction with classroom instruction. The app is a helpful companion for teaching and learning in school gardens and other outdoor educations settings. Parents will enjoy the visual delight and playful tone.

Starting with Soil was created by Whole Kids Foundation and the Center for Ecoliteracy. San Francisco-based creative agency, Monstro, was the key production collaborator. 


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