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Properties of Matter

Lesson Plan

Properties of Matter


Students will differentiate between solids, liquids, and gases. Students will:

  • define solids, liquids, and gases.

  • identify solids, liquids, and gases based on particle activity.

  • explain the difference between volume and mass.

Essential Questions


  • Solid: The state of matter in which the volume and shape of a substance is fixed.

  • Liquid: The state of matter that has a definite volume, but not a definite shape.

  • Gas: The state of matter that has no definite volume or shape.

  • Physical Property: Properties used to observe and describe matter without changing the identity of the substance. Examples are color, density, and hardness.

  • Chemical Property: Properties that describe how a substance changes into a completely different substance. Examples are flammability and resistance to corrosion.

  • Volume: The amount of space taken up by a three dimensional object. Can be interchangeable with capacity, when referring to the volume within or contained by another object.

  • Capacity: The ability to absorb or contain another object.

  • Mass: The amount of matter in an object.

  • Matter: Anything that has mass and takes up space. Three common states of matter are solid, liquid, and gas.


120 minute/ 1–2 class periods

Prerequisite Skills

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Formative Assessment

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    • Split the class into small groups and separate them around the classroom. Tell students that you will give them scenarios to act out for each of the states of matter. Inform students that you will shout out a scenario and when you yell “Go!”, they should begin acting it out. Students should not move until they hear the signal “Go!” Watch students and their formations throughout the lesson. Tailor your teaching to meet all students’ understanding of the content.

    Suggested scenarios:

    • A solid: Students should be standing tightly together and should be in motion.

    • A liquid: Students should be about an arm’s length apart and should be in motion.

    • A gas: Students should be far away from each other and should be in motion.

    • A piece of ice evaporating into a gas: Students should begin standing close together and then should move far apart.

    • Water freezing into ice: Students should begin standing an arm’s length apart and then should begin moving closer together. Students should end standing tightly together.

    • Ice melting into water: Students should stand tightly together and should move further apart.

Suggested Instructional Supports

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    Scaffolding, Active Engagement
    Students learn about matter and how matter makes up everything around us. Students begin by learning the three states of matter, as well as their properties. Students become familiar with the following vocabulary: solids, liquids, gases, volume, and mass. At the end of this lesson, students should be knowledgeable on the level of attraction between particles in each state of matter.

    Students make a prediction about which of three containers holds the largest amount of water. This entices students into learning more about volume.


    Students complete a hands-on activity with balloons to learn more about the three states of matter.


    Students review what they’ve learned by completing a worksheet that asks them to give examples of each of the three states of matter.


    Students create root beer floats at the end of the lesson and write a response to a prompt asking them to identify the three states of matter in the ice cream treat.


    This lesson is designed to give students hands-on activities, peer tutoring, and graphic organizers to help organize their thoughts and notes. Each of these strategies can be used to reach all learners at all levels.


    The lesson begins with a preassessment of what students already know about matter. Students move to independent learning and application by completing kinesthetic activities, guided activities, graphic organizers, and writing activities.


Instructional Procedures

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    Preparation for the lesson: Do not blow the balloons up too much. Allow room for expansion.

    1. Fill eight balloons with water and four balloons with air. Out of the eight balloons that were filled with water, freeze four of them overnight. The four frozen balloons will be used as examples of solids, the four water balloons will be used as examples of liquids, and the four air balloons will be used as examples of gas.

    2. Take three clear containers, of different sizes, and fill each cup with the same amount of water. Label the containers “A,” “B,” and “C”.

    3. Outline three boxes on the classroom floor with masking tape. The boxes should be about 7 feet long.

    In this lesson, students will learn about the three states of matter. Emphasis will be placed on the following vocabulary: solid, liquid, gas, volume, and mass. Students will also learn about the level of attraction between particles in each state of matter. At the end of this lesson, students will be able to identify each of the three states of matter.

    Have students enter matter, volume, and mass in the Vocabulary Term column. Next, have students guess what each term means in the “This is what I think this word means” column. Once students have made their guesses and shared them with the class, guide students to enter the correct definitions in the next column. Assist students in creating a sentence using each of the words.

    Begin by asking students, “What in this classroom is made of matter?” Write the term matter on the board. As students give responses, write them on the board. Tell students that everything around them is made up of matter. Inform students that they will be learning about the properties and vocabulary terms associated with matter: volume and mass.

    Show the class the three containers of water. Write the following questions on the board. “Which container has the largest amount of water? Which container has the smallest amount of water?” Have students write the questions and their responses in their science journals. Ask students to give their responses and take a class vote on which container they believe has the most water. Record the responses on the board. Next, pour each container of water into the graduated cylinder. On the board write down the amount of water in each container and explain to students that the amount of water in the three containers is equal. Ask students to explain how the water can be equal in all three containers. Listen to responses and then explain to students that liquid takes the form of the container that it is in. Introduce the vocabulary word volume. Explain to students that volume is the amount of space something takes up.

    Now show students the sponge and the brick. Although students are not familiar with the term, ask students, “Do you think this sponge and brick have the same mass?” As a class, there may be mixed responses. Try to get individual students to explain their thought process when answering the question. After the discussion, explain to the class that the brick has more mass than the sponge. Mass is how much matter is in a substance.

    Hand out to each student a copy of the Matter Vocabulary Worksheet (S-5-1-1_Matter Vocabulary Worksheet.doc). Ask students to glue this page in their science journals and inform them that they will be using this same worksheet to fill in their remaining vocabulary for other lessons in the Matter unit. Students will need another copy before the end of the unit.

    Next, split your class into four groups and assign clear roles for each student, depending on the group’s size.. Each group should have a solid balloon, a liquid balloon, a gas balloon, a tub, a safety pin, and copies of Balloons: Solids, Liquids and Gases (S-5-1-1_Balloon Worksheet and KEY.doc). Say to students, “Matter is divided into three different states. This next activity will introduce each of the three states.” Have students begin the activity by filling in the first column on their worksheet with their observations about what each balloon looks and feels like. Next, have students write a prediction about what will happen to the contents inside the balloon once it has been popped. After students have filled out the first two columns, have them place the balloons in the tub. Next, have students pop each of the balloons with the safety pin. (The solid stays the same, the liquid takes form of the tub, and the air vanishes in the gas balloon.) After each group has popped their balloons, have students record their observations about what happened to the contents of each balloon. Explain to students that each balloon represented a state of matter. Any and everything around us can be placed into either of the three states of matter. Hand out to each student a copy of Examples of States of Matter (S-5-1-1_Examples of States of Matter Worksheet.doc). Give students about 10 minutes to make a list of examples for each state of matter. Once students complete their list, give them an opportunity to share their list with the class.

    Now that we have introduced the three states of matter, you all are going to act out the three states of matter. Matter is made up of particles. Particles are always in motion but the type of motion is different in each state of matter. For example:

    • Solids stay in their positions and vibrate. They do not change places with one another.

    • Liquids are moving around quite a bit but not fast. The “slide” past one another constantly as they change places.

    • Gases are constantly bouncing around, changing positions randomly. There is no rhyme or reason to where they will move to next.

    For the next activity, each of you will represent a particle.” Place students in three groups: solids, liquids, and gases. The three boxes should already be outlined on the floor with tape. Ask the solids group to stand tightly together. They should be touching shoulders. Ask the liquids group to be arm length apart. Advise the gases group to stand as far away from each other as possible, without stepping outside the box. Now, one by one, ask each group to begin moving around while the other two groups observe. After each group has observed the other two in motion, ask students which group had the most room to move and which group had the least room to move. Explain to students that the attraction between particles is strongest in solids and weakest in gases. After the class discussion, have them complete States of Matter: Solids, Liquids, and Gases Worksheet (S-5-1-1_States of Matter Worksheet and KEY.doc).

    Next, have students take out their science journals and turn to the page where they glued the Matter Vocabulary worksheet in Lesson 1. Have students add the vocabulary terms solids, liquid, and gas. Have students write their predictions about what each term means. Next, give students the correct answers. Assist students in using each of the vocabulary terms in a sentence.

    Give students a visual by showing the class a short video on the following Web site: entitled “States of Matter.” If time permits, allow students to take the interactive quiz at the end of the video.


    • Have students create their own recipe for a root-beer float that uses a solid, liquid, and gas. For extra credit, allow students to bring in their creations for a class taste testing.

    • As a closing activity, have students make root beer floats in class. “We are now going to make root beer floats. Tell me how the three states of matter are represented in this ice cream treat.” Students should respond that the ice cream represents a solid, the root beer represents a liquid, and the carbonation represents a gas. After students have enjoyed their root beer floats, ask them to write the following statement in their science journals: “Explain the solid, liquid, and gas involved in the making of your root beer float.” Give students time to write a response.

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DRAFT 05/26/2010
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