As a "Matter" of Fact

Alfreda Freeman Perkins Bass Elementary School
1140 W. 66th Street
Chicago IL 60621
(773) 535-3275


This mini-teach is designed for the primary grades (1-3)
1. Define the term matter
2. Compare some properties of solids, liquids and gases
3. Describe how matter changes from one state to another
4. Classify instruments used to measure various forms of matter

Materials Needed:

Strategy 1 -Defining matter- ice, clear plastic cups, paper towels, wooden block

Strategy 2 - Properties of matter- Ziploc bags, small solid items (cotton
balls, clay, stick of gum, marble, penny, etc.) water, dish
detergent, oil, salad dressing, medicine drop bottles, balloon,
baking soda, vinegar, candle, clear cup, saucer, hot water
Strategy 3 - Changes in matter- candle, clay, matches, burner (hot plate), raw egg, cooking oil,
salt, water, food coloring, flour, mixing bowl, wax paper.
Strategy 4 - Measuring matter- measuring cup, graduated cylinder, scale/balance,
ruler, measuring spoons


Strategy: 1 - Write the word matter on the board. Hold up a wooden block and
have students describe it (texture, shape, size). Have students predict what
will happen if you drop the block onto the desk. Drop it and compare their
responses. Hold up a cup of water and have students describe how it feels (wet,
cold, warm, hot). Observe what happens when water is poured onto the surface of
the desk. Ask the children to wave their hands swiftly in front of their faces.
Ask what they saw and felt. Explain that air is a form of gas that can not be
seen but we know it is there because we can sometimes feel or smell it. We can
even hold it in a container. Divide the class into small groups. Distribute
saucer, cup, and ice to each group. Allow them to rub the ice between their
hands and explain what has happened to the ice. Explain the properties of
matter and how the ice changed.

Strategy: 2 - Distribute the Ziploc bags containing various solids. Discuss how
they look, feel, and what size they are. Reinforce the properties of solids.
Distribute medicine bottles containing various liquids (one per group to be
circulated among the groups). Ask what shape is the liquid in the bottle. Have
them remove the dropper and deposit a small portion of the liquid on the top of
their desk or work table. Ask what shape the liquid is now. Absorb the liquid
with a paper towel and repeat the question. Reinforce the properties of a
liquid by asking, "What does this say about a liquid?" Blow up a balloon and
tie a knot in it. Ask the class what made it grow from small to large. Have
them blow on the backside of their hands and ask what it is that they feel.
Explain that the same thing that they feel on the backs of their hands is what
fills the balloon. This form of matter is called air which is a gas. To
demonstrate another gas, have a volunteer come forward and ask him/her to pour 1
tblsp. of baking soda into a balloon, and 3 tblsp. of vinegar into a bottle.
Attach the balloon to the open end of the bottle and observe what happens. As
the balloon begins to inflate, ask what caused the balloon to blow up. Explain
that a gas was made by a reaction between the vinegar and soda and blew the
balloon up.

Strategy: 3 - Burn a candle and allow it to burn long enough to accumulate a
puddle of melted wax. Allow children to witness the wax changing from a solid
to a liquid and to respond to this change. Ask what caused the solid to change
to liquid. Next, place a small drop of cooking oil into a sauce pan. Crack a
raw egg and ask the children to predict what will happen once the heat has been
applied to the egg. Allow the children to see the egg change from a fluid-like
form to a stiff, solid form. Ask what the two demonstrations have in common.
What had to happen in order for the matter to change from one form to another?
Explain that heat can cause matter to change from one form to another. Describe
the difference between a physical change and a chemical change as they relate to
each demonstration. Then, mention that there are other ways to cause change in
matter without using temperature. Distribute a small bowl, flour, salt, water,
food coloring, and wax paper to each group of students. Ask the students to
describe each of the things you have given them and to classify them into
different states of matter. Spread wax paper over all work areas. Have
students mix the ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a spoon until all
the ingredients are well blended. (Each group really should use a different
color of food coloring for variety's sake). After the children have mixed and
kneaded the dough, ask how is the dough different from the things it was made
with. Ask what state is the dough in. Allow them to form different shapes and
artworks. Encourage them to swap and share different colors of dough with one
another. Ask them what they think will happen after the dough dries.

Strategy: 4 - Display various tools for measuring (a ruler or meterstick, a
measuring cup, measuring spoons, graduated cylinder, and a balance). Recall the
definition of matter and some of the different forms of it. Name some items in
the classroom (desk, chalkboard, globe, clock, water, paint, etc.) and ask
volunteers to select one of the measuring tools to measure it. Explain that
certain tools are used just for measuring length, others for volume, and others
for mass. On a bulletin board, have students use a string and press tack or
tape to connect the form of matter to the instrument that is best used to
measure it.

Performance Assessment:

Activity worksheet on matter - Students identify states of matter based on
properties that they can perceive.

Ongoing assessment - student responses and recall of properties and
definition of various states of matter.

Performance assessment - As stated in Strategy #4


Burdette, S & Ginn. Science Horizons Minnesota. 1993

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