States of matter booklet project

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States of matter and particle theory

Throughout key stages 3 and 4, students will develop an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the particle model in order to explain more complex phenomena.  In Year 7 a good enough model, supported by visual and physical representations of particles, can be used to explain states of matter.  This list includes practical teaching tips and a range of suggested activities and demonstrations.

The resources in this list are linked to the following topics:

  • the properties of the different states of matter (solid, liquid and gas) in terms of the particle model, including gas pressure
  • changes of state in terms of the particle model.

Visit the secondary science webpage to access all lists:

Whilst this list provides a source of information and ideas for experimental work, it is important to note that recommendations can date very quickly. Do NOT follow suggestions which conflict with current advice from CLEAPSS, SSERC or recent safety guides. eLibrary users are responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is consistent with current regulations related to health and safety and that they carry an appropriate risk assessment. Further information is provided in our Health and Safety guidance.


There are some nice pressure experiments on page 50 of this book that would be useful when studying particle theory. The accompanying student sheet is well set out. 


This video demonstrates an experiment using solid carbon dioxide (dry ice) and sodium hydroxide which is likely to impress students. The clip shows how solid carbon dioxide sublimes into gaseous carbon dioxide. The video is accompanied by an information sheet which summarises the requirements, procedure and scientific background to the experiment.


This is a great set of practical activities to demonstrate particle theory. Along with comprehensive teacher notes in the booklet, there are a series of useful powerpoint presentations that could be useful. 


This booklet provides detailed information on students' misconceptions about particles, as well as guidance on progression across Key Stages 3 and 4 when thinking about developing an increasingly sophisticated understanding of this abstract concept. There are a series of suggested activities to address these misconceptions. 


This resource is a video and accompanying student and teacher sheets detailing a good, visual practical about measuring the rate at which ice melts. As there are several different ways in which the experiment can be carried out students can choose their own equipment and develop their own method.


A collection of three videos which are excerpts from the 'We Are Aliens!' planetarium show. They provide good starter activities for looking at life within our universe. They explore life within our solar system and the Earth and other planets that may contain life. The exoplanets videos go on to look at the possibilities of life outside our solar system.


This article explains how some gases can be poured. There are instructions for an easy but impressive practical where carbon dioxide can be made using a vinegar-sodium bicarbonate reaction and then poured onto a candle which is then extinguished. 

In this simple experiment, students use a Bunsen burner and water bath to investigate the different effects of heat on chocolate and egg white. The practical provides a clear introduction to physical and chemical changes, and can be used to ensure students learn how to use Bunsen burners safely.


This is a well resourced lesson in which students help Cadbury's improve their chocolate. There is a video outlining the various processes they use in their factory along with lesson plans, student sheets and technician notes. 


Most children will be familiar with soapy bubbles consisting of gas surrounded by a film of moisture. This lesson looks at the behaviour of matter through the formation of bubbles that contain liquid surrounded by a ‘membrane’ of gas, giving rise to the name 'antibubbles’. It then links the use of bubbles to delivering drugs to cancerous tissue. The resource consists of a video, teacher and technician notes and student worksheets. 



  • Differentiate between the three main states of matter.

  • Describe different properties of matter.

  • Describe the properties of a solid, a liquid, and a gas.

  • Describe the properties of a solid and a liquid.

  • Describe the properties of gases and liquids.

  • Understand the transitions between states of matter.

  • Understand how matter changes from one state to another and what affects the change.

  • Describe the processes of evaporation and condensation.

  • Describe the processes of melting and solidification.

  • Describe the processes of freezing and melting.

  • Explain cohesion.

  • Investigate the properties of a non-Newtonian fluid.

  • Describe the general process of crystal formation.


  • see individual activities for materials.


A “state of matter” is a way to describe the behaviour of atoms and molecules in a substance.

There are three common states of matter:

  1. Solids – relatively rigid, definite volume and shape. In a solid, the atoms and molecules are attached to each other. They vibrate in place but don’t move around.
  2. Liquids – definite volume but able to change shape by flowing. In a liquid, the atoms and molecules are loosely bonded. They move around but stay close together.
  3. Gases – no definite volume or shape. The atoms and molecules move freely and spread apart from one another.

Plasma is sometimes referred to as a fourth state of matter. While it’s similar to a gas the electrons are free in a cloud rather than attached to individual atoms. This means that a plasma has very different properties from those of an ordinary gas. Plasmas occur naturally in flames, lightning and auroras.

Other, more exotic states of matter can occur at extremely high energy levels or at extremely low temperatures, where atoms and molecules (or their components) arrange in unusual ways. Scientists also sometimes distinguish between crystalline solids (where the atoms and molecules are lined up in a regular pattern) and glassy solids (where the atoms and molecules are attached in a random fashion).

Each of these states is also known as a phase.

Elements and compounds can move from one phase to another phase if energy is added or taken away. The state of matter can change when the temperature changes. Generally, as the temperature rises, matter moves to a more active state.

The word phase describes a physical state of matter, when a substance moves from phase to phase, it’s still the same substance.

For example, water vapour (gas) can condense and become a drop of water. If you put that drop in the freezer, it would become a solid. No matter what phase it is in, it is always water — two atoms of hydrogen attached to one atom of oxygen (H20).


cohesion: When two molecules of the same kind stick together.

plasma: A state, similar to a gas, where the electrons are not stuck with their atoms but are free in the cloud; plasma is naturally occuring in flames, lightning and auroras.

non-Newtonian fluid: A liquid with viscosity that changes depending on applied stress.

hypothesis: A suggested explanation for a phenomenon to guide an experimental investigation.

solid: Relatively rigid, definite volume and shape. In a solid, the atoms and molecules are closely bonded that they vibrate in place but don’t move around.

liquids: Definite volume but able to change shape by flowing. In a liquid, the atoms and molecules are loosely bonded. They move around but stay close together.

gases: No definite volume or shape. The atoms and molecules move freely and spread apart from one another.

condensation: To go from a gaseous state to a liquid state.

evaporation:To change from a liquid state to a gaseous state.

solidification: The transition from a liquid state to a solid state.

sublimation: To change from a solid state directly to the gaseous state without going through a liquid phase.

melting: The change of state from a solid to a liquid.

deposition: The change of state directly from a gas to a solid.

temperature: The degree of hotness of a substance, related to the average kinetic energy of its molecules or atoms.

pressure: The pressure of a force upon a surface or an object by another force.

boiling point: The temperature required for a liquid to become a gas.

melting point: The temperature required for a solid to become a liquid.

freezing point – The temperature required for a liquid to change to a solid.

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States of Matter (Book)

States of Matter


Can you guess what this picture shows? The blue and red "flames" are matter in a particular state. You’re probably familiar with the states of matter most common on Earth — solids, liquids, and gases. But these "flames" are a state of matter called plasma. This plasma ball was made by humans. Plasma also occurs in nature. In fact, plasma makes up most of the matter in the universe.

What do you know about plasma? For example, do you know where it is found in nature? In this chapter, you’ll find out as you read about plasma and other states of matter


Science Standards

The following BPS-Standards will be the focus of instruction for this unit of study.

SCI-MS.PS1 Matter and Its Interactions

  • SCI-MS.PS1.01 Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.
  • SCI-MS.PS1.02 Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
  • SCI-MS.PS1.03 Gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society.
  • SCI-MS.PS1.04 Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.
  • SCI-MS.PS1.05 Develop and use a model to describe how the total number of atoms does not change in a chemical reaction and thus mass is conserved.
  • SCI-MS.PS1.06 Undertake a design project to construct, test, and modify a device that either releases or absorbs thermal energy by chemical processes.


The benchmarks colored BLUE "Need to Know" indicate them as identified for targeted for all students to master, with YELLOW "Important to Know" supporting the priority benchmarks. This was a prioritization process not an elimination - the white are the overall supporting benchmarks.


Essential Questions

  • How can I tell the difference between a solid, liquid, gas, and plasma (the states of matter)?
  • How do I describe the difference betwe en the states of matter according to their mass, volume, density, shape, and particle arrangement?
  • Can I draw the differences between the states of matter according to their mass, volume, density, shape, and particle arrangement?

Solids, Liquids, Gases, and Plasmas


States of matter are the different forms in which matter can exist. Look at Figure. It represents water in three states: solid (iceberg), liquid (ocean water), and gas (water vapor in the air). In all three states, water is still water. It has the same chemical makeup and the same chemical properties. That’s because the state of matter is a physical property.

This photo represents solid, liquid, and gaseous water. Where is the gaseous water in the picture?

How do solids, liquids, and gases differ? Their properties are compared in Figure below and described below. You can also watch videos about the three states at these URLs:

These three states of matter are common on Earth. What are some substances that usually exist in each of these states?

Lesson Objectives
  • Describe matter in the solid state.
  • State properties of liquid matter
  • Identify properties of gases.
  • Describe plasma.
  • Explain the relationship between energy and states of matter.

- Quizlet Vocab


Ice is an example of solid matter. A solid is matter that has a fixed volume and a fixed shape. Figure below shows examples of matter that are usually solids under Earth conditions. In the figure, salt and cellulose are examples of crystalline solids. The particles of crystalline solids are arranged in a regular repeating pattern. The steaks and candle wax are examples of amorphous ("shapeless") solids. Their particles have no definite pattern.

The volume and shape of a solid can be changed, but only with outside help. How could you change the volume and shape of each of the solids in the figure without changing the solid in any other way?


Ocean water is an example of a liquid. A liquid is matter that has a fixed volume but not a fixed shape. Instead, a liquid takes the shape of its container. If the volume of a liquid is less than the volume of its container, the top surface will be exposed to the air, like the oil in the bottles in Figure .

Each bottle contains the same volume of oil. How would you describe the shape of the oil in each bottle?

Two interesting properties of liquids are surface tension and viscosity.

  • Surface tension is a force that pulls particles at the exposed surface of a liquid toward other liquid particles. Surface tension explains why water forms droplets, like those in Figure.
  • Viscosity is a liquid’s resistance to flowing. Thicker liquids are more viscous than thinner liquids. For example, the honey in Figure is more viscous than the vinegar.

These images illustrate surface tension and viscosity of liquids.

You can learn more about surface tension and viscosity at these URLs:



Water vapor is an example of a gas. A gas is matter that has neither a fixed volume nor a fixed shape. Instead, a gas takes both the volume and the shape of its container. It spreads out to take up all available space. You can see an example in Figure.

When you add air to a bicycle tire, you add it only through one tiny opening. But the air immediately spreads out to fill the whole tire.


You’re probably less familiar with plasmas than with solids, liquids, and gases. Yet, most of the universe consists of plasma. Plasma is a state of matter that resembles a gas but has certain properties that a gas does not have. Like a gas, plasma lacks a fixed volume and shape. Unlike a gas, plasma can conduct electricity and respond to magnetism. That’s because plasma contains charged particles called ions. This gives plasma other interesting properties. For example, it glows with light.

Where can you find plasmas? Two examples are shown in Figure. The sun and other stars consist of plasma. Plasmas are also found naturally in lightning and the polar auroras (northern and southern lights). Artificial plasmas are found in fluorescent lights, plasma TV screens, and plasma balls like the one that opened this chapter.

You can learn more about plasmas at this URL:


Both the northern lights (aurora borealis) and a plasma TV contain matter in the plasma state. What other plasmas are shown in the northern lights picture?

Energy and Matter

Why do different states of matter have different properties? It’s because of differences in energy at the level of atoms and molecules, the tiny particles that make up matter.


Energy is defined as the ability to cause changes in matter. You can change energy from one form to another when you lift your arm or take a step. In each case, energy is used to move matter — you. The energy of moving matter is called kinetic energy.

Kinetic Theory of Matter

The particles that make up matter are also constantly moving. They have kinetic energy. The theory that all matter consists of constantly moving particles is called the kinetic theory of matter. You can learn more about it at the URL below.


Energy and States of Matter

Particles of matter of the same substance, such as the same element, are attracted to one another. The force of attraction tends to pull the particles closer together. The particles need a lot of kinetic energy to overcome the force of attraction and move apart. It’s like a tug of war between opposing forces. The kinetic energy of individual particles is on one side, and the force of attraction between different particles is on the other side. The outcome of the "war" depends on the state of matter. This is illustrated in Figure below and in the animation at this URL:

Kinetic energy is needed to overcome the force of attraction between particles of the same substance.

  • In solids, particles don’t have enough kinetic energy to overcome the force of attraction between them. The particles are packed closely together and cannot move around. All they can do is vibrate. This explains why solids have a fixed volume and shape.
  • In liquids, particles have enough kinetic energy to partly overcome the force of attraction between them. They can slide past one another but not pull completely apart. This explains why liquids can change shape but have a fixed volume.
  • In gases, particles have a lot of kinetic energy. They can completely overcome the force of attraction between them and move apart. This explains why gases have neither a fixed volume nor a fixed shape.

Lesson Summary

  • A solid is matter that has a fixed volume and a fixed shape.
  • A liquid is matter that has a fixed volume but not a fixed shape.
  • A gas is matter that has neither a fixed volume nor a fixed shape.
  • Like a gas, plasma lacks a fixed volume and shape. Unlike a gas, it can conduct electricity and respond to magnetism.
  • The state of matter depends on the kinetic energy of the particles of matter.

States of Matter

Watch different types of molecules form a solid, liquid, or gas. Add or remove heat and watch the phase change. Change the temperature or volume of a container and see a pressure-temperature diagram respond in real time. Relate the interaction potential to the forces between molecules

States of Matter

Behavior of Gases


The molecules of a gas in a closed container, such as a balloon, are not only constantly moving. They are also constantly bumping into each other and into the sides of their container. The sketch in Figure shows how this happens. The force of the particles against whatever they bump into creates pressure.

The particles of a gas keep bumping into the sides of its container.

Lesson Objectives
  • Define pressure.
  • State the gas laws.

- Quizlet Vocab

What is Pressure?

Pressure is defined as the amount of force pushing against a given area. How much pressure a gas exerts depends on the amount of gas. The more gas particles there are, the greater the pressure.

You usually cannot feel it, but air has pressure. The gases in Earth’s atmosphere exert pressure against everything they contact. The atmosphere rises high above Earth’s surface. It contains a huge number of individual gas particles. As a result, the pressure of the tower of air above a given spot on Earth’s surface is substantial. If you were standing at sea level, the amount of force would be equal to 10.14 Newtons per square centimeter (14.7 pounds per square inch). This is illustrated in Figure below.

Earth’s atmosphere exerts pressure. This pressure is greatest at sea level. Can you explain why?

The Gas Laws

For a given amount of gas, scientists have discovered that the pressure, volume, and temperature of a gas are related in certain ways. Because these relationships always hold in nature, they are called laws. The laws are named for the scientists that discovered them.

- Boyle’s Law

Boyle’s law was discovered in the 1600s by an Irish chemist named Robert Boyle. According to Boyle’s law, if the temperature of a gas is held constant, increasing the volume of the gas decreases its pressure. Why is this the case? As the volume of a gas increases, its particles have more room to spread out. This means that there are fewer particles bumping into any given area. This decreases the pressure of the gas. The graph in Figure below shows this relationship between volume and pressure. Because pressure and volume change in opposite directions, their relationship is called an inverse relationship. You can see an animation of the relationship at this URL:

As the volume of a gas increases, its pressure decreases.

A scuba diver, like the one in Figurebelow, releases air bubbles when she breathes under water. As she gets closer to the surface of the water, the air bubbles get bigger. Boyle’s law explains why. The pressure of the water decreases as the diver gets closer to the surface. Because the bubbles are under less pressure, they increase in volume even though the amount of gas in the bubbles remains the same.

Gas bubbles get bigger when they are under less pressure.

- Charles's Law

Charles’s law was discovered in the 1700s by a French physicist named Jacques Charles. According to Charles’s law, if the pressure of a gas is held constant, increasing the temperature of the gas increases its volume. What happens when a gas is heated? Its particles gain energy. With more energy, the particles have a greater speed. Therefore, they can move more and spread out farther. The volume of the gas increases as it expands and takes up more space. The graph in Figure below shows this relationship between the temperature and volume of a gas. You can see an animation of the relationship at this URL:

As the temperature of a gas increases, its volume also increases.

Roger had a latex balloon full of air inside his air-conditioned house. When he took the balloon outside in the hot sun, it got bigger and bigger until it popped. Boyle’s law explains why. As the gas in the balloon warmed in the sun, its volume increased. It stretched and expanded the latex of the balloon until the balloon burst.

- Amonton’s Law

Amonton’s law was discovered in the late 1600s by a French physicist named Guillaume Amonton. According to Amonton’s law, if the volume of a gas is held constant, increasing the temperature of the gas increases its pressure. Why is this the case? A heated gas has more energy. Its particles move more and have more collisions, so the pressure of the gas increases. The graph in Figure below shows this relationship.

As the temperature of a gas increases, its pressure increases as well.

A woman checked the air pressure in her tires before driving her car on a cold day (see Figure below). The tire pressure gauge registered 32 pounds of pressure per square inch. After driving the car several miles on the highway, the woman stopped and checked the tire pressure again. This time the gauge registered 34 pounds per square inch. Amonton’s law explains what happened. As the tires rolled over the road, they got warmer. The air inside the tires also warmed. As it did, its pressure increased.

A tire pressure gauge measures the pressure of the air inside a car tire. Why is the pressure likely to increase as the car is driven?

Lesson Summary

  • Particles of a gas are constantly moving and bumping into things. This gives gases pressure.
  • The gas laws describe the relationship among pressure, volume, and temperature of a given amount of gas.

Changes of State


Matter is always changing state. Look at the two pictures of Mount Rushmore in Figure below. The picture on the left was taken on a sunny summer morning. In this picture, the sky is perfectly clear. The picture on the right was taken just a few hours later. In this picture, there are clouds in the sky. The clouds consist of tiny droplets of liquid water. Where did the water come from? It was there all along in the form of invisible water vapor.

Both of these pictures of Mount Rushmore were taken on the same day just a few hours apart. Where did the clouds come from in the picture on the right?

Introduction to Changes of State

What causes clouds to form? And in general, how does matter change from one state to another? As you may have guessed, changes in energy are involved.

Lesson Objectives

  • Explain the role of energy in changes of state.
  • Outline the processes of freezing and melting.
  • Describe vaporization and condensation.
  • Define sublimation and deposition.

- Quizlet Vocab

What are Changes of State?

Changes of state are physical changes in matter. They are reversible changes that do not involve changes in matter’s chemical makeup or chemical properties. Common changes of state include melting, freezing, sublimation, deposition, condensation, and vaporization. These changes are shown in Figure below. Each is described in detail below.

Which process changes a solid to a gas? Which process changes a gas to a solid?

Energy, Temperature, and Changes of State

Energy is always involved in changes of state. Matter either loses or absorbs energy when it changes from one state to another. For example, when matter changes from a liquid to a solid, it loses energy. The opposite happens when matter changes from a solid to a liquid. For a solid to change to a liquid, matter must absorb energy from its surroundings. The amount of energy in matter can be measured with a thermometer. That’s because a thermometer measures temperature, and temperature is the average kinetic energy of the particles of matter. You can learn more about energy, temperature, and changes of state at this URL:



Changes Between Liquids and Solids

Think about how you would make ice cubes in a tray. First you would fill the tray with water from a tap. Then you would place the tray in the freezer compartment of a refrigerator. The freezer is very cold. What happens next?

- Freezing

The warmer water in the tray loses heat to the colder air in the freezer. The water cools until its particles no longer have enough energy to slide past each other. Instead, they remain in fixed positions, locked in place by the forces of attraction between them. The liquid water has changed to solid ice. Another example of liquid water changing to solid ice is pictured in Figure below.

Water dripping from a gutter turned to ice as it fell toward the ground, forming icicles. Why did the liquid water change to a solid?

The process in which a liquid changes to a solid is called freezing. The temperature at which a liquid changes to a solid is its freezing point. The freezing point of water is 0°C (32°F). Other types of matter may have higher or lower freezing points. For example, the freezing point of iron is 1535°C. The freezing point of oxygen is -219°C.

- Melting

If you took ice cubes out of a freezer and left them in a warm room, the ice would absorb energy from the warmer air around it. The energy would allow the particles of frozen water to overcome some of the forces of attraction holding them together. They would be able to slip out of the fixed positions they held as ice. In this way, the solid ice would turn to liquid water.

The process in which a solid changes to a liquid is called melting. The melting point is the temperature at which a solid changes to a liquid. For a given type of matter, the melting point is the same as the freezing point. What is the melting point of ice? What is the melting point of iron, pictured in Figure below?

Molten (melted) iron is poured into a mold at a foundry. It takes extremely high temperatures to change iron from a solid to the liquid shown here. That’s because iron has a very high melting point.

Changes Between Liquids and Gases

If you fill a pot with cool tap water and place the pot on a hot stovetop, the water heats up. Heat energy travels from the stovetop to the pot, and the water absorbs the energy from the pot. What happens to the water next?

- Vaporization

If water gets hot enough, it starts to boil. Bubbles of water vapor form in boiling water. This happens as particles of liquid water gain enough energy to completely overcome the force of attraction between them and change to the gaseous state. The bubbles rise through the water and escape from the pot as steam.

The process in which a liquid boils and changes to a gas is called vaporization. The temperature at which a liquid boils is its boiling point. The boiling point of water is 100°C (212°F). Other types of matter may have higher or lower boiling points. For example, the boiling point of table salt is 1413°C. The boiling point of nitrogen is -196°C.

- Evaporation

A liquid can also change to a gas without boiling. This process is called evaporation. It occurs when particles at the exposed surface of a liquid absorb just enough energy to pull away from the liquid and escape into the air. This happens faster at warmer temperatures. Look at the puddle in Figure below. It formed in a pothole during a rain shower. The puddle will eventually evaporate. It will evaporate faster if the sun comes out and heats the water than if the sky remains cloudy.

Evaporation of water occurs even at relatively low temperatures. The water trapped in this pothole will evaporate sooner or later.

- Condensation

If you take a hot shower in a closed bathroom, the mirror is likely to "fog" up. The "fog" consists of tiny droplets of water that form on the cool surface of the mirror. Why does this happen? Some of the hot water from the shower evaporates, so the air in the bathroom contains a lot of water vapor. When the water vapor contacts cooler surfaces, such as the mirror, it cools and loses energy. The cooler water particles no longer have enough energy to overcome the forces of attraction between them. They come together and form droplets of liquid water.

The process in which a gas changes to a liquid is called condensation. Other examples of condensation are shown in Figure below. A gas condenses when it is cooled below its boiling point. At what temperature does water vapor condense?

Water vapor condenses to form liquid water in each of the examples pictured here.

Changes Between Solids and Gases

Solids that change to gases generally first pass through the liquid state. However, sometimes solids change directly to gases and skip the liquid state. The reverse can also occur. Sometimes gases change directly to solids.

- Sublimation

The process in which a solid changes directly to a gas is called sublimation. It occurs when the particles of a solid absorb enough energy to completely overcome the force of attraction between them. Dry ice (solid carbon dioxide, CO2) is an example of a solid that undergoes sublimation. Figure below shows chunks of dry ice in water changing directly to carbon dioxide gas. Sometimes snow undergoes sublimation as well. This is most likely to occur on sunny winter days when the air is very dry. What gas does snow become?

Solid carbon dioxide changes directly to the gaseous state.

- Deposition

The opposite of sublimation is deposition. This is the process in which a gas changes directly to a solid without going through the liquid state. It occurs when gas particles become very cold. For example, when water vapor in the air contacts a very cold windowpane, the water vapor may change to tiny ice crystals on the glass. The ice crystals are called frost. You can see an example in Figure below.

Frost is solid water that forms when water vapor undergoes deposition.

Lesson Summary

  • Changes of state are physical changes. They occur when matter absorbs or loses energy.
  • Processes in which matter changes between liquid and solid states are freezing and melting.
  • Processes in which matter changes between liquid and gaseous states are vaporization, evaporation, and condensation.
  • Processes in which matter changes between solid and gaseous states are sublimation and deposition.
How To Make A Staple-Free Booklet

Solids, Liquids, and Gases


Read-First Model

In the read-first model, students begin by reading texts that help them build a foundation of understanding with the core science ideas of the unit. Then they engage in hands-on investigations and use other resources to explore examples related to the concepts they read about. Students learn about general concepts before using deductive reasoning to apply them to specific examples.

Vocabulary resources can be used at multiple points throughout the unit to develop and strengthen students� fluency with the disciplinary language of science. TIP: Challenge students to maintain a concept web throughout the unit that connects the examples they explore later in the roadmap back to the core ideas they read about in the Unit Nonfiction Book.

* Each unit includes one free book from Reading A�Z. To access other titles related to the science topic, a subscription to Reading A�Z or Raz-Plus is required.


Do-First Model

In the do-first model*, students are immersed in unit concepts by completing hands-on investigations that allow them to apply science and engineering practices and construct their own explanations of core ideas. Then students read texts, watch videos, and complete more investigations that help them confirm or refine their explanations. Vocabulary resources can be used at multiple points throughout the unit to develop and strengthen students� fluency with the disciplinary language of science. TIP: Have students use a science journal to record the examples they explore through activities and readings, then challenge them to design a concept web that connects those examples to the core ideas they read about in the Unit Nonfiction Book toward the end of the roadmap.

* This model may also be referred to as the discovery method, in which students use inductive reasoning to determine broad concepts by first exploring examples.
** Each unit includes one free book from Reading A�Z. To access other titles related to the science topic, a subscription to Reading A�Z or Raz-Plus is required.


Project-Based Model

In the project-based model*, students work in teams to investigate a science question or design a solution to an engineering challenge. The PBL Project Organizer, SAZ Journal, completed project, and group presentation all allow students to demonstrate what they have learned and accomplished. The PBL Teaching Tips help teachers facilitate the project, while rubrics for teachers and students can be used to assess group and individual performance. During planning and execution, students use other unit resources to build their understanding of core concepts that they can apply to their project.

* This model is sometimes referred to as a problem-based approach to learning, in which the objective is to solve a problem. In Science A-Z Project-Based Learning Packs, students do both�solve a problem and produce a product.
** Each unit includes one free book from Reading A�Z. To access other titles related to the science topic, a subscription to Reading A�Z or Raz-Plus is required.


Project states booklet of matter

States of Matter – Chemistry for Kids


A concept like “states of matter” may seem too abstract to teach to kids 3-7, but there are lots of hands-on ways they can experience the ideas. Once they’ve experienced it, then we just give them the words to describe these things and the concepts to connect the ideas together.

So, first, let’s explore the activities where they experience states of matter. This is a really long post… if you go to the bottom, you’ll find more info about how to teach the concepts that explain these experiences.

If, like us, you’re teaching one two-hour session on this, there are more ideas in this post than you can do in one class. But, if you see the kids for more days, you could spread these ideas over multiple sessions.

Activities to Explore the Change from Solid to Liquid

Ice melting: We filled plastic containers with water and froze them overnight. In class, we put the ice in a tub. Next to it, we put a dish of coarse salt with a spoon, a container of water with eye droppers, and diluted liquid water colors with pipettes. Kids dribbled on substances to melt the ice.


Challenge: Can you Save Captain America? Prep 24+ hours in advance: Fill a loaf pan halfway with water. Freeze it. Fill it the rest of the way with water. Take a Captain America figure, or any other toy, and drop him in – he’ll settle in the middle of the pan. Freeze it the rest of the way. In class, use it like the ice blocks, but kids have the extra motivation of trying to get the toy out of the ice. This year, we offered one ice block with plastic dinosaurs to excavate, one with pennies, and one with marbles. I did several layers during the freezing process, so the items were suspended at several levels.


In our afternoon class, we had two girls working very hard at excavating pennies and marbles. They were very focused on choosing a penny, then putting water and salt directly over that penny until they broke through the ice and could remove it. Whenever they broke one free, they’d shout out the news and the class would cheer.

After kids have worked with the ice and the salt for a while, you could take it up to the next level. You could offer wood mallets and kid-friendly chisels. Or you could offer a hair dryer, but take precautions so it won’t land in the water from the melted ice. In our morning class, two boys were very dedicated to melting the entire block of dinosaur ice with a hair dryer.

Cooking Lessons: You could also melt butter or chocolate in a microwave or on a stove.

Activities for Exploring Gasses

Balloons: Trapping Gas in a Container. Pump and Let Go: We had balloons and Balloon Pumps. Kids could fill the balloons, and let go, and the escaping air (gas) propels the balloon, sputtering around the room.

Balloon Rockets: We also set up tracks with balloon rockets: take a toilet paper tube, tape a balloon to it – you need to tape the balloon around the “neck” but you have to tape loosely enough that you’ll then be able to fit the balloon pump into the neck opening. Mount the tube on a string. Then kids use the balloon pump to blow up the balloon. Let go and the balloon flies along the track.

Balloon Spinner: If you mount the balloon on a cardboard ribbon spool instead of a toilet paper roll, then if you inflate and let go, the spool will spin around the ribbon.


Trapping Gas in Bubbles: Put out bubble solution and wands for free play. As kids play, you can explain that the bubble solution is a liquid which holds together as we fill it with gas (the air from our lungs).

Water table: Have turkey basters and syringes that kids can fill with air (a gas) and put under the water, and use to blow bubbles. (Gas moving through a liquid.)

Helium Balloons: You could have helium balloons and balloons you blow up yourself and kids can compare the differences between them.

Dry Ice: There’s all sorts of fun things you can do with dry ice (and careful adult supervision). Create fog, blow up balloons with gas, float a bubble on the fog, put out fire, make bubble prints and more, all while learning about sublimation – how dry ice (carbon dioxide) goes straight from solid to gas. Learn more at:

Activities for Exploring Liquids

Surface tension: Put out pennies, pipettes, and water. Challenge the kids to see how many drops of water they can put on a penny. The first 10 or so drops just puddle out to fill the penny, but after that, it starts creating a dome of water. The bigger the dome, the slower you have to work, because each time you add a drop, the whole dome shivers and re-aligns itself. Our record was 30 drops of water! Note, the pipettes required a lot of fine motor skill to manage one drop at a time – our 6 and 7-year-olds could do it. An eye dropper might be easier for younger hands to control.

Volume comparison: You could fill the water table with measuring cups and containers in a wide variety of shapes. If they pour exactly one cup of water into each of these shapes, it can look very different – short and flat, or tall and skinny, etc. You could also have solids (e.g. Duplos or plastic counting bears) and they would see that they can’t necessarily fit the same number of bears into each of the containers, because the bears don’t mold to the shape of the vessel. (Note: our three to four year olds totally miss the science behind this experiment, but they still have plenty of fun scooping up plastic bears and floating them in containers of water.

Comparing States of Matter

3 gloves. Use latex or non-latex gloves from your first aid kit: hours before class fill one with water and freeze it. When setting up for class, fill one with water, and blow one up like a balloon and tie it off. Put the three gloves on a table, with signs explaining the three states. Here’s a PDF of the signs I used.

Sorting Game: Have children sort things into categories of Solid, Liquid, or Gas. There’s several printable sorting games available online. We used one from Have Fun Teaching. There’s also a good one on Teachers Pay Teachers. You could do physical objects instead: any solids, some containers full of liquids, a balloon full of air, and an “empty” container with an airtight lid (a container of air). If you have older kids, put some “tricky” solids… something soft and flowy like silk fabric, and something like sugar or salt that pours and molds to shape, but is really lots of little solids.

Activities for Exploring Evaporation

Art Activity – Epsom salt painting: Dissolve Epsom salts in hot water. Then paint with the water. As the water evaporates, the salt crystals reappear. Use a flashlight and magnifying glass to examine the crystals. (Source:

For the best crystals, use a smooth, tightly textured paper – cardstock works much better than construction paper, where the texture of the paper dominates. Note: the picture on the left is from a previous year’s class, where we got very different results, not the crystalline structures, though still fun. I’m not sure what we did differently…


You can use a similar technique to make “crystal paintings” by coloring the salt water, and painting on white paper. I’m thinking that would be a great art project for an Anna and Elsa / Frozen themed birthday party…. print a picture of Arendelle, then paint blue ice crystals all over it.

Evaporation experiment: This is a good take-home exercise, or good if you are in the classroom several days a week. Start with a spoonful of salt. Optional: stir in a food coloring or liquid watercolor paint. Then mix in warm water. The salt “disappears” as it dissolves in the water. They will then leave the container of liquid on one of the windowsills. Over the next few days, students can check the container to see if the water evaporated, leaving behind the salt and color.

Grow crystals: If you have time, you could make rock candy or Epsom salt crystals. With these experiments, you dissolve a solid into a liquid, then as the liquid evaporates, the solids gather into crystals. Learn how at the Science of Cooking or Kidz World.


Make it Rain: prep a plate full of ice cubes, fill a jar or container a quarter of the way full with very warm water. Set the plate of ice on top. As steam rises off the water, it encounters the ice, and cools and condenses on the jar. (Source.)

Other Activities

Art – Watercolor resist: We used crayons (a solid) to draw. Then painted watercolors (a liquid) on them.


Art Process – Mixing Colors: Have children use liquid colors (e.g. tempera paint or liquid watercolors) and mix colors in a painting – red and yellow make orange. Then have them use solid colors (crayons, pastels or chalk) and try to mix them. Instead of orange, you end up with red scribbles with yellow scribbles laid over the top of them. The solids do not mix as well.


Tool of the Week: Thermometers. We always have a tool of the week, and since so much of the states of matter experience is about temperature, we wanted to use thermometers. We filled three containers of water at varying temperatures – ice water, room temperature, and our hottest tap water (120 degrees). We put them in an insulated coffee cup so they would hold temperature as long as possible – the ice water was still filled with ice four hours later!

Kids use their fingers to test the water and to guess what is the warmest and what is the coldest, then measure with a thermometer. This experiment worked better for the older kids with a good grasp of numbers (so they actually understand that 72 is warmer than 48). You could place one slower-to-read thermometer in each cup so they could just look at the numbers and read them out (some kid-friendly thermometers for this experiment are the Learning Advantage Thermometers or ETA hand2mind Thermometers) or you could use an instant-read digital thermometer like this one. My instant-read thermometer from my kitchen wasn’t the best option, as it’s not watertight, and the kids tended to submerge it… it survived somehow.

Outside time: Last year, it happened to be below freezing the day we had this class. (Not typical for Seattle, even in January.) So, we went outside, and found that lots of the sandbox buckets and scoops were filled with ice. We used warm water to loosen it, broke the ice free, then had fun breaking ice into bits.

Clouds: Show pictures of the same location on a clear blue-sky day, on a partly cloudy day and on a rainy day. Discuss how clouds are water vapor. Discuss how they form [evaporation] and what causes the rain to start. You could do water cycle in detail unless you’ll do this in another session of class. If there has been frost recently, you can share with the children that this is when the water vapor in the air (gas) gets so cool that it first turns to liquid (dew), and then freezes into a solid (frost).

More activity ideas (and ways to explain states of matter) at Mommy Lessons 101.

We share our classroom with others, so aren’t able to leave projects in process. However, if you’re teaching chemistry at home or in your own classroom, I highly recommend trying a Crystallization Experiment, where you grow salt crystals or sugar crystals (i.e. rock candy.)

Class Projects

“Not liquid, not solid” aka “Oobleck” aka “non Newtonian fluid”  This involves mixing water and cornstarch. It creates a unique substance. If you pick it up in your hands, you can roll it around quickly and make a solid ball, but when you stop moving your hands, it melts into liquid and dribbles out of your hand. You can stir it slowly like a liquid, but if you smack it with the spoon, it acts like a hard solid. If you make a plastic animal “run” quickly across it, it doesn’t sink in. If you move the animal slowly, it sinks into the “quicksand.” If it moves quickly in a struggle to get out, it stays stuck, but if you pull it out slowly, it breaks free. Learn more at Steve Spangler Science and SciFun.

To make it: I used a 16 ounce container of corn starch – I added water a little at a time (Spangler says the ratio is about 10:1 – 10 parts corn starch, 1 water, but I think that’s an error. I think it’s more likely something between 2 parts cornstarch to 1 part water, or 1 part cornstarch to 1 part water). Your goal is to create something that feels like a stiff liquid if you stir slowly, but solidifies when you tap on it. On the Ellen Show, they made a giant vat of this stuff that Ellen DeGeneres runs across. See it at

Other interesting substances you could make:

Flubber. [Should not be eaten! Don’t make this if you have kids likely to eat it.] Mix 3/4 cup warm water, 1 cup white glue or clear Elmer’s glue. In separate container, mix 1/2 cup of warm water and 2 teaspoons of Borax (can find in the laundry aisle at the grocery store. DON’T use boric acid which is a pesticide and very toxic. Just because the name is similar doesn’t mean it’s the same thing!!). Then combine the two mixtures. Knead. Drain excess water. Put in sensory table or tub and let kids play. Store in baggies. If it dries out at all, just rework in some warm water to get back to the right consistency.  (Source: Explore! Ice Worlds which also has a great lesson plan for turning this simple flubber exploration into a full experiment on the movement of glaciers.)

Other recipes for similar substances:

  • Not liquid or solid. 1 cup cornstarch, one cup baking soda. 1/2 cup of water. Mix. it will harden, then soften… will drip from your hands.
  • Gak: 1 cup Elmer’s glue and 1 cup liquid starch. Add starch to glue slowly, mixing it in with a spoon then kneading it as it thickens.

This post explains the science of polymers:

Snack – Make Your Own Ice Cream**I have not play-tested this yet.**

Supplies: Small Ziploc bags. (Sandwich size is big enough, but the quart size comes in freezer bag style – the freezer bags are sturdier). Optional tape. Gallon size Ziploc bags. Half-and-half, vanilla, sugar, salt or rock salt, ice cubes or crushed ice, spoons, gloves or washcloths. (Quantity depends on how many kids will be making ice cream – the directions below are for one child’s serving.)  Recipe and directions written in kid-friendly language to be placed on table. (laminating these will help them survive better)

  1. In small Ziploc bag, mix the following (Older kids can measure their own ingredients, younger children will need help.)
  • 1/2 cup of half and half
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons sugar

2. Seal small bag – it’s important to squeeze all the extra air out! Tape the bag closed OR place inside a quart size Ziploc.
3. In a gallon size Ziploc, put several ice cubes or scoops of crushed ice and about 3 tablespoons of salt or rock salt*. It should be filled about halfway.
4. Put small bag inside big bag, nestled down into the ice.
5. Seal the big bag – it’s important to squeeze all the extra air out!
6. Give kids gloves or a washcloth to wrap bag in. Then have them shake and/or rub the bag for five or more minutes till the milk mixture is slushy. (liquid turns to solid!)
7. Remove little bag from big one. Wipe the salt off the top of the little bag before opening.
8. Give kids a spoon and let them eat ice cream out of the bag.

Explain to the older kids why we use the salt: The salt lowers the freezing point of water from 32 degrees to 20 degrees or less. This very-cold ice makes an environment where the ice cream can freeze.

To learn more about the science of this snack, see “Ice Cream in a Bag Lesson Plan.”

Another method for ice cream is: Mix 1 cup of whipping cream, 1 cup of half and half, 1 tsp vanilla and ¼ – ½ cup sugar. Put in a small container with an airtight lid. (If it’s not watertight, seal with tape.) Put it inside a bigger round container (like a coffee can.) Fill the large container with layers of ice and rock salt. Roll the can back and forth between students (or up and down a slide) for about 15 minutes till ice cream hardens. Then eat it!

Another snack option is a root beer float, which also demos the states of matter.

Science Demos: We had a couple experiments to do that required very close adult supervision to avoid steam burns, so we did those as demonstrations during snack time when all the kids were seated. If you’re working with just one or two kids, they could easily participate with appropriate caution.

Changing states with heat: have a hot plate, small pot (clear glass would be great), and ice. Show the children the ice, explain that it is water in solid form. Put it in the pot – ask what will happen as you heat it. Show how as it heats, it turns to liquid. Continue to heat. As the steam starts to rise and they can see it, ask them what the steam is – it’s water in gas form (although to be really technical, gas is invisible… what we’re seeing that we call steam is actually tiny suspended drops of water) Ask what would happen if we turn off the heat and let it cool down. Ask what would happen if we put the pot in the freezer.

Teach vocabulary as you do the demo: melting, boiling, evaporation, freezing. If you have readers in your group who love big words, you could print a poster of this graphic, from  (This site also has a good description of key concepts of states of matter.)


We used a closed electric kettle for this demo, which releases steam in a concentrated location, which allowed us to demonstrate condensation as well:

Condensation – gather gas and observe as it changes to liquid: As the water boils, ask the child to watch for steam (gas). As soon as they see it, hold a clear plastic cup upside down over the spout. (With close supervision!) When the kettle switches off, count to five, then turn the cup over and look inside. What do you see? (Liquid water.) Explain that as the steam cools, it turns back to water.


The microwave demo: Take a quart size freezer bag, Ziploc style. Ask a child to put in a few ice cubes – solid water – seal it well. Ask them what happens when you put things in the microwave – they get hot. Put it in the microwave for one minute. What’s happened to the ice – probably partially melted, part still ice. Have them touch the outside of the bag to see what temperature it is. Still cold. Put it in for another minute or so. Now it’s all liquid – touch the bag (VERY carefully at first to test temperature!!) – now it’s hot. Tell the kids that’s the last time they’re allowed to touch the bag. Heat it then in 20 second intervals – you’ll see the bag inflating like a balloon. Explain that is the liquid water turning into gas and expanding. You can take it out of the microwave when it’s expanded (carefully!!) and show how quickly it deflates as it cools. Do NOT open the baggie of steam, and DON’T let them touch it. If you run the microwave long enough, and there’s enough steam, it will pop the bag open. I don’t really recommend this, but it happened to us, and didn’t make too much of a mess…

Communicating the Big Idea – in Opening Circle

Three states of water, hands-on:

  • Solid: Pass around a cup with an ice cube in it. Ask them if they know what ice is made of (water). Have them touch the ice. Ask them to describe the ice – it’s cold, it’s hard. Ask if it changes shape if they pour it out of the container into their hand. Show how that it doesn’t change shape. Pick up a few other objects from around the room. Show how you can pick them up and set them down and they stay the same shape. Ask the kids for examples of other solids.
  • Liquid: Then pass around a cup of water. Ask them to describe it – cool, wet, liquid. Pour some from the cup onto a flat dish. Did it change shape? Then pour it into a test tube or other tall skinny container. Did it change shape? Demo a few other liquids: maybe vegetable oil and honey or molasses. You could either leave them in a closed bottle and just show how they move differently, or, you could squeeze out a little and let the kids touch it so they could see how different each of the liquids is. Ask for other examples of liquids.
  • Use a plastic syringe (or pipette) to pull up some water and show them how the syringe has water in it. Then squirt the water back into a container.
  • Gas: Ask if there’s any gas in the room. Tell them the room is full of air, which is a gas. Hold up a plastic syringe and draw it open, filling the cylinder with air. Say “this container is full of something. What’s it full of? (Air) Can you see it?” Push the air out – ask if they saw it come out. Then pull in more air and hold it close to a child’s hand, and blow the air out on their hand – did they feel it? Then fill the syringe with air, hold it under the water, push out the air and ask them what they see – bubbles of air moving through the water. Ask if we can trap a gas, and then blow up a balloon or show them a helium balloon so they can see how the gas is trapped in an airtight container.

Book: We read I Get Wet by Vicki Cobb (my new favorite author of science for young children!). It does a nice job of exploring the liquid water and explaining why it makes us wet. We demoed the ideas from it as we went along, pouring water into different shape containers, using a pipette to show how a drop of water forms into a ball and drops, putting water on waxed paper and on a paper towel.

Song: We used the Matter Song from Teachers Pay Teachers, but I made some changes to the lyrics in the liquids verse, and we also changed the order to solids, then liquids, then gas. Other options at: or

Closing Circle Time

Note: I made up a set of posters which teach the vocabulary of melting, boiling, condensing, and freezing. They’re in this states-of-matter-vocabulary PDF. There’s a different set of worksheets on this at: I used a little of their illustration in making my posters.

Book: We used What Is the World Made Of? by Zoehfeld. However, it’s too wordy, so I wrote a much shorter version of the words, printed it and taped it to the back of the book so I could read that version as I flip through the pages. Talks about solids, liquids and gas and has some silly ideas: “have you ever seen anyone walk through a wall?” or “have you used milk for socks?”

Matter and Duplo molecules: Talk about matter and how everything that they can see, hear, touch, smell, or taste is made of matter. Explain that matter comes in three forms: solid, liquid, gas. (We’re not going to get into plasma with this age group.) Explain that matter is composed of molecules – very tiny pieces.

We reminded them that a few weeks ago, when discussing electricity, we talked about atoms. We explained that molecules were made up of clusters of atoms, but they were still so tiny we can’t see them. We showed them a Duplo and said we would use this as a “model” and pretend it was a molecule of water.

Demo-ing States of Matter with Duplos and a kettle


Solids: Show a container holding 10 – 15 Duplos, all stuck together. Say these water molecules are all packed tightly together right now – they’re a solid – so we’re pretending that this is water in a solid state – ice. Shake it around in the container a little – see how the solid retains its shape? Pick up a few other solids at random – a book, a marker – whatever you have handy – have the kids notice how you can pick up and move solids and they hold their shape.

Show the kids one ice cube. Explain that it’s water in solid form. Put it in an electric kettle (you can cheat and have a little water already in the kettle to make the next step of the demo easier.) Ask what will happen when you heat it.

Melting: As you heat the ice a bit, go back to the Duplo demo. Let’s pretend to heat up our solid molecules. The heat adds energy. The molecules get excited. They loosen their bonds and drift farther apart. (Break up the Duplos and spread them across the bottom of the container.) “See how they flow across the bottom of the tray, taking the shape of the container like a liquid?” Pour them into a different shape of container like you used with the containers of water when you read I get wet. Remind them of the other liquids you looked at. Then pour a little water from the kettle – “look, the ice has melted. It’s turned from solid to liquid. What happens if we heat it more?“

Boiling / Evaporating

As you heat the water in the kettle more, go back to the Duplos. As we heat it, the molecules get really excited – they start bouncing around. (Shake the container to make them jump.) When they get really excited, they turn into gas that dissipates around the room. (Shake them so hard they fly out of the container – the kids love this!)

Go back to the kettle – point out the steam that’s coming out of the top. “Look, it’s boiling. Liquid water is turning into water vapor – a gas.”


Use a plastic cup to capture some steam. Tip it up, count to 5 and show them what’s inside. Some liquid water will have condensed from the steam.

Take your container of loose Duplos and put a lid on it (or seal the bag if you’re using a plastic bag.) You’ve captured some gas. Shake it fast to show how the molecules can’t escape. Then shake it slower, say it’s cooling down, shake it slower, letting all the molecules settle to the bottom of the container – it’s liquid again.


Ask what would happen if we put our cup of liquid water in the freezer. It would freeze to solid. Build the Duplos back into a solid mass.

Solid, Liquid, Gas game: If we called out “solid”, they grab hands with all the other kids, squeeze in tight, lock their elbows and freeze in place. If we try to move them, they all stay in the same shape as we shove them around the room. If we call “liquid”, they still held hands, but loosen apart from each other, moving and flowing around the room. If we push them, they flow out of our way. If we say “gas”, they let go and move away from each other to fill the space, moving around the room. This could a movement game, or it could also be done to music as a “states of matter dance party.”

Use the vocabulary as you play: “it’s getting colder, you’re freezing, get close to all the other molecules and hold on for a tight bond.” “It’s warming up, you’re melting, loosen up your bonds, and flow.” “It’s really hot, you’re boiling, let go of your bonds and dissipate around the room.”

Will they understand?

Our three to four year olds should get at least some grasp of the three states of water. Over the next few days, try quizzing them about whether something is solid, liquid or gas, and they’ll get it right more times than wrong.

You may notice the kids playing with the ideas for the next few days. They may mix the ideas around in their brains. When they do, it’s easy to reinforce what they’ve got right, and add corrections as needed to  solidify their knowledge. (Read about my process of teaching my then 3-year-old about states of matter. At first, I thought he didn’t get it, but then observed how he processed the ideas over the next few days.)

This kinesthetic game really reinforced the learning for the kids. Last year, three days after the class, I listened to my then-5-year-old describe states of matter to his preschool teacher. As he described each, he was moving his body just like we did in this game. As a 6 year old, he can repeat back to me what we taught about molecules.

Optional Preview/Review: You may send a link to a video to parents before class that they can preview with their child to set up the week’s activity, or it could be sent as a follow-up. Here are some options, from the one I like best to least:

More Books

We read our favorite books in circle, so see info on those above. Here are other options:

Matter: See It, Touch It, Taste It, Smell It by Stille. This is a preschool – first grade appropriate book that describes the basics about states of matter. We only read about half the pages in circle. Each page included “fun facts” for older readers, which we skipped in circle. Sample content: “Can you pour it? Does it spill? It must be a liquid…. You cannot hold a liquid. A liquid runs through your fingers.” (Small quibble – one of their examples of a solid is a glass window. There is some debate whether glass is a solid or a liquid.)

Change It!: Solids Liquids Gases and You by Mason. Age 4 – 7. Each state is introduced with a brief description, everyday examples, and a challenge – “can you find three more solid objects in this picture?” There is also a simple activity for each state. (Making play-dough for solids, putting water in different shaped containers for liquids, etc.) Good.

What Is a Solid? by Boothroyd.(Also has a Liquid and a Gas book.) This would be a fine series to read with ages 3-5. Simple words, familiar examples, pictures are fine.

What Is a Solid? by Peppas. (Also has a Liquid and a Gas book.) For first grade and up. Good descriptions, engaging photos, “what do you think?” sidebars on every page that encourage kids to make their own observations and try their own experiments. Good, just too advanced for many of our students.

Splat!: Wile E. Coyote Experiments with States of Matter by Slade. This is aimed at 3rd-5th graders, but my five-year-old loves it because of the Wile E. Coyote theme. I certainly wouldn’t use it in a group of 3 to 6-year-olds, but it works one on one if the young child is interested in it and you can stop to explain and give more details.

What Are Solids, Liquids, and Gases? by Spilsbury. 4th grade and up.
Solids, Liquids, and Gases by Stille. 4th grade and up.
States of Matter by Mullins.
Way over the head of our students. Of the three, I like Spilsbury best. But, even though you wouldn’t read these to young kids, they might still be useful to YOU. General hint for those of you are feeling uncertain of your grasp of science concepts: if you’ll be teaching preschool age kids, it may be really helpful to you to read a 4th grade level book to yourself in advance. It explains the concepts at a slightly higher level than what you’ll be covering in class, which means if kids have questions, it can help you to answer them.

Experiments with States of Matter, by Cook. Has good directions for some classic kids’ science experiments, many of which have any direct relation to states of matter: baking soda and vinegar volcano, chromatography, invisible ink, etc.

Material World the Science of Matter by Jay Hawkins (non-fiction, has some nice descriptions of activities, nice photos, the activities are mostly too complex for our class, some of the info is a bit advanced)

More about Matter

Be sure to also check out our lesson plan for learning the basics of what matter is, and learning about different materials and their properties in our Matter and Materials Lesson Plan.

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Now discussing:

He lifted Peter up with one hand, and Susan with the other, whispering something in her ear. She opened her mouth. Peter decisively inserted his member into the open mouth of the mother, who was desperately of his own.

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