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Soil Shimmy

en Español / em Português

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A soil shimmy is another way to determine what kind of soil you have. Get your dance shoes on and get shaking (with your soil!)

Like dancing? Do the soil shimmy and get your dancing on and also find out what kind of soil you have!


  • Clear, plastic bottle or jar, or glass jar (just be careful!),
  • Water
  • Powdered dish (optional)
  • Dancing shoes (optional)

Let’s Do It!

Another way to determine what soil particles make up your collected samples is to do a little dancing!

  1. Use a funnel or folded piece of paper to put at least a half cup of soil into your clear jar.

  2. If you have it: Add a tablespoon of powdered dish detergent in with the soil. (Dish detergent clings to the soil particles, helping to separate them.)
  3. Fill the bottle with water.
  4. Secure the lid and dance around and shake the bottle for at least two minutes.
  5. Place your bottle in a spot where it can sit undisturbed for 24 hours. The soil should settle out from bottom to top in layers of sand, silt, clay, and organic matter.

  6. Do this again in other bottles with your other soil samples.
soil profile: sand, silt, clay, humus, water
After a soil shimmy, soil will settle out with the heaviest and largest soil particle, sand, first. Then, silt, a medium-sized soil particle will fall out of suspension, followed lastly by clay.
two soil shimmy jars

Soil shimmy jars that have settled over two weeks

Talk it Over!

  1. What happened to the soil in the jars?
  2. What type of soil settled out first? Why do you think so?
  3. What other things do you notice about your jar?
  4. What kind of soil do you think you have?
  5. What other ways can you figure out what soil you have?

Extra Activity