Author Guest Post: “Soil Science” by Peggy Thomas, Author of The Soil in Jackie’s Garden


“Soil Science”

As a kid, I loved to dig in the garden. And I still do. But it wasn’t until I heard the statistic – that one tablespoon of healthy soil contains more living organisms than there are people on Earth – that I felt compelled to write a story about the importance of soil.

Healthy soil is everything! Just think about it. Everything we eat comes directly or indirectly from the soil. Most of the things we use every day can be traced back to the soil. Yet many of us walk along never realizing the magic happening under our feet.

In THE SOIL IN JACKIE’S GARDEN, which is structured like the classic “The House That Jack Built,” the main character and her friends follow the soil cycle as they plant a seed, watch their plants grow, and harvest the results. But the story doesn’t end there. To be part of the cycle, Jackie composts the scraps, returning nutrients back to the soil.

More than anything, I hope the book inspires kids to dig deeper, get their hands dirty, and feel connected to the world around them. To get them started, here are a few activities to pair with different sections of the story:

  1. This is the soil in Jackie’s garden…

By making SOIL SLURRY, you can find out what kind of soil you have in your garden. With nothing more than a glass jar, some soil and water you’ll separate soil particles into layers of sand, silt and clay.

  1. These are the worms – squirrrm, that stir the soil in Jackie’s garden.

This activity comes from Maine Agriculture in the Classroom. Make an EARTHWORM HABITAT and watch how these amazing creatures aerate and feed the soil.

  1. This is the stem, long and lean…

In CELERY SCIENCE you’ll witness the amazing capillary action that moves water and nutrients up and down a plant stem. All you need is a stalk of celery, water and food coloring.

  1. These are the leaves, shiny and green…

How do plants breathe without lungs or a nose or a mouth? They have tiny pores in their leaves called stomata, and in this super easy exercise you’ll be able to see how plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. BREATHE IN!

  1. This is the compost created by critters…

Follow Jackie’s lead and become part of the soil cycle.

With MAKE A MINI COMPOSTER you’ll be able to see the transformation as invisible microbes break down organic material and turn it into plant food just in time feed your Spring flowers.

Published May 29th, 2024 by Feeding Minds Press

About the Book: Perfect for National Learn About Composting Day, The Soil in Jackie’s Garden introduces budding gardeners to the magic happening in their very own backyard with beautiful visuals that open vertically to showcase the secrets beneath the surface of the soil. Follow Jackie and her diverse group of friends as they meet pollinators, measure progress, and patiently wait for their sweet snack to grow. But it doesn’t stop there — the soil is packed with critters creating compost for next season’s seeds!

Written in the cumulative style of “The House that Jack Built,” the catchy alliterations and engaging illustrations are interwoven with scientific facts that teach young readers about the life cycle of a plant, the natural processes that create new soil, and the importance of composting for a sustainable garden.

About the Publisher: Feeding Minds Press is a project of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. The mission of the Foundation is to build awareness and understanding of agriculture through education. The goal of Feeding Minds Press is to publish accurate and engaging books about agriculture that connect readers to where their food comes from and who grows it. Learn more at

About the Author: Peggy Thomas is the author of more than twenty award-winning nonfiction books for children including Hero For the Hungry: The Life and Work of Norman Borlaug, illustrated by Sam Kalda, and Full of Beans: Henry Ford Grows a Car, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, which earned the AFBFA 2020 Book of the Year Award. When not in her garden, Peggy is most likely speaking with students about sustainability and food security or researching her next true story. Learn more about Peggy at

The illustrator of The Soil in Jackie’s Garden is Neely Daggett. She lives with her husband and three children in tree-filled Portland, Oregon. Making picture books is her passion, but Neely also loves to work in her garden, take her dog Luna on long walks, and visit the Oregon coast with her family. You can find more of Neely’s work at

Thank you, Peggy, for these fun activities to bring Jackie’s garden into the classroom!

3 thoughts on “Author Guest Post: “Soil Science” by Peggy Thomas, Author of The Soil in Jackie’s Garden”

  1. Oh, I love this! Connecting children with the earth, with the source of our foods, with the creatures we share every inch of this planet with, that’s something I feel so passionate about, too. I’m going to make sure there’s a copy of The Soil in Jackie’s Garden in my library!


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