Tuesday, April 22, 2014

This is an Earth science experiment - building mud bricks with different kind of soils, comparing them, and playing with them.
Earth science for kids: explore making bricks from different types of soil

Earth Play for Earth Day

It’s Earth Day today, and I decided to share an activity we did last week where we investigated soil properties in our garden and built mini adobe bricks. Of course, this project can be done on any day of the year and can be incorporated as part of ancient civilizations unit. In fact, our own adobe bricks were inspired by our ongoing Mexico geography and history unit and by our recent trip to Mexico where adobe bricks are still widely used in construction.


Investigate Soil Properties
Adobe bricks are made out of sand, clay, water, and some kind of organic material (straws, sticks, and/or manure). Our goal was to investigate which mud bricks will be stronger – the ones made out of enriched soil, the ones from a dirt pile or the ones where plant material is added to dirt. Smarty also insisted on making mini-bricks  out of air dry clay for comparison purposes.

Set Up and Materials:

Mud Bricks Materials
All you need for this activity is water, mud and something to shape your bricks in. We are participating in the project Recycle and Create, and the theme for April is egg cartons. Egg cartons are perfect for making mini-bricks – they don’t come out perfectly square, but their shape offers opportunities for trying things out, and they dry out relatively quickly (we left ours outside for 2 days). I also threw in some perler beads to decorate our mini bricks, but Smarty didn’t want to use them on the bottoms of the egg carton, since she wanted to make patterns and pictures, not a random sprinkle of beads.


Selecting Soil for Mud Bricks
Smarty predicted that air dry bricks will be strongest, followed by enriched soil bricks, and that pure dirt bricks will be “the crumbliest”. She was a little disappointed that she was not allowed to add “manure” to her bricks.


Mud brick building occupied my 7 year old for good 2 hours. It was a deliciously dirty activity with a lot of mixing and picking the best place to dig. In the end, Smarty spent significant time arranging beads on her mud bricks – I hope you can see an American flag on one of her bricks Smile


Our bricks were quite ready by Saturday – perfect for trying to balance them, build small structures, and test an initial hypothesis. Unfortunately, Smarty took the bricks out and mixed them all together before we could discuss the differences, but she told me that her hypothesis was correct, and that “earth bricks” were the driest and the crumbliest. As expected, air dry clay bricks fared well, but enriched soil bricks turned out quite well too and already endured several play sessions.

Your Turn

Earth Science for Kids: Building Bricks with Mud

Do your kids enjoy building and playing with mud?

More Earth Science for Kids?

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Emma @ P is for Preschooler said...

Building with mud sounds like a lot of fun! I love the science aspect of it too!

Ticia said...

I've always wanted to do a mud brick comparison, so I'm glad to see you do it.

It looks like it was a lot of fun.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

What a cool activity! My kids are always building mud concoctions on our patio. We'll have to give this a go!

min said...

Love all your science experiments!

Ashley said...

This looks like some great, dirty fun! Featured you on Mom's Library this week!

Carrie said...

What fun!! My daughter made mud and tried to build using it as glue for rocks. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

Cent said...

Fabulous and amazing post... Thanks for this great stuff....