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Properties of Matter

Subject: Science

Grade Level: First Grade

Materials: A SMARTboard, construction paper, scissors, glue, water, ice cream, cups, Jello, a candle, butter, a microwave, a freezer, and chart paper

About: As part of a state-mandated science unit on Properties of Matter, the students learn about solids, liquids, and gases. Through interactive Internet activities, discussions, and hands-on partnership work, the students develop an understanding of how matter changes.

The culminating activity for this part of the study is partnership observations and experiments. Each partnership will study one object and see how it changes based on its environment (extreme heat, extreme cold, or room temperature).

This unit combines technology with experiments, class conversations, and partnership work. There are so few science units that include each of these components in the early grades. I believe this unit successfully reaches children on every level...those who need more support and those who are ready to think more deeply about properties of matter. It has supports every step of the way, but it also enables children to ask many questions about matter and how it functions, changes, and changes again.

These lessons include a lesson in Brainpop Jr., which requires membership. However, many schools are already members, and if you are not, you should be. It is a fantastic website. I searched for a long time to find science websites that were interactive, informative, and user friendly for first graders...there are few. This unit successfully meets the needs of first graders (many of whom are not yet reading or writing) and engages those who are reading fluently and ready to move on to another level of understanding. The combination of technology, experimentation, and sorting engages every child, and enables the teacher to differentiate his/her instruction.

The students will learn about solids, liquids, and gases.
The students will work collaboratively in partnerships.
The students will try hands-on experiments that further reinforce their understanding of properties of matter.
The students will recognize technology as an instructional tool.
The students will learn how properties of matter can change, and change again.
The students will learn how matter changes depending on its environment.
The students will feel comfortable playing these games or trying out the websites independently.
The students will learn how to observe an object.

Fossweb is a great K-2 resource for science units. This particular link leads you to a game called 'Change It.' The idea of the game is to see how temperature affects matter. There is a group of objects, and you drag the objects into either the freezer or the oven (depending on which appliance you choose). Then you click the button 'turn the freezer on,' or 'turn the oven on,' and a timer pops up. The timer moves around the clock, demonstrating the passing of an hour. The object may or may not change, depending on what it is. For example, if it is an ice cream cone, and it is put in the oven, it will show an ice cream cone melting. However, if you put a shoe into the freezer, it will not change.
brainpop is a great website for children of all ages, but brainpopjr. is particularly fantastic because it uses language that is developmentally appropriate for young children. I watched the movie with the children, played memory on the Smartboard, and used printouts to help me with these lessons. You can utilize each brainpopjr. unit with your students, between handouts, further explorations, and homework ideas.

Students demonstrate an understanding of properties of objects and materials.
Physical Sciences
Students demonstrate an understanding of change over time.
Life Science
Students represent data and results in multiple ways.
Scientific Communication
Students use technology and tools to gather data and extend the senses.
Scientific Tools and Technology
Students acquire information from multiple sources, such as experimentation and print and non-print sources.
Scientific Tools and Technology
Students work individually and in teams to collect and share information and ideas.
Scientific Thinking
Students demonstrate scientific competence by completing an experiment.
Scientific Investigations
Students use technology tools to enhance learning.
Technology Productivity Tools
Students develop positive attitudes towards technology uses that support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity.
Technology: Social, Ethical, and Human Issues
Students are proficient in the use of technology.
Technology: Basic Operation and Concepts

Day 1: How Many Groups Do We Need?
The students will work collaboratively in partnerships to discuss how they should group objects.
The students will document their ideas to communicate their thoughts to others. They do this by sorting objects, and sectioning off their groups by identifiying each with a clear label.
The group's final share will explain their ideas for grouping.
The students will begin to recognize the classification of objects into solids, liquids, and gases.
construction paper, and chart paper
scissors, pencil and markers
glue sticks
I model how I want the students to cut each object on the dotted line. I also show them the materials they will need to complete this project (materials listed above).
I give very little direction because I want to see what they come up with independently. My lesson for today is in the share at the end of the activity because I want the lesson to be driven by their discoveries. FIrst, they cut out each object. Then they work with a partner to group the objects that go together. They have to talk with their partner before deciding on anything. They need to organize their ideas into groups and label their groups. Their groups can be labeled as anything that goes together, as long as it makes sense.
I send them off in partnerships with materials in hand. As they work, I walk around and conference with each partnership.
I bring the students back to the rug to share their ideas. Each partnership presents their work to the class, and explains their thinking. Some students labeled things as 'solids, liquids, and gases,' other students created groups such as 'sticky liquids,' 'breakfast foods,' or 'things that go in the air.' Some students got confused by a few objects and placed them in between groups, such as syrup...it goes in sticky liquids and breakfast foods. Students chose to represent that confusion with a question mark, others chose an arrow to demonstrate this question.
After each presentation, the students ask questions, clarify something that was unclear, or explain what they noticed. The partnership answers the questions.
As a continuation of the lesson the following day, I give them the exact same sort. This time, I give them the categories, labeled as solids, liquids, and gases. They work with the same partnerships to sort the objects once more, this time placing them in one of three predefined groups.
After they complete this sort, they return to the rug, and we share what they noticed. How did our groups change? Do the groups make sense? Based on the sort, how could we define a solid, a liquid, or a gas? I then chart their definitions on a piece of chart paper. Do these groups seem clearer or less clear? Were any important ideas omitted by grouping the objects in this way?
Go around your house. How many solids can you find? Draw a picture and write the name of 5 solids that you find.
This activity is full of great assessment opportunities. Through conferencing, partnership work and presentations, I am able to see who understands the concepts and who remains unsure.

Day 2: What are Properties of Matter?
The students will develop a deeper understanding of solids, liquids and gases.
The students will gain experience using the SMARTboard.
The students will see examples of properties of matter, as they watch the brainpopjr. movie and play the game of memory.
A SMARTboard
A subscription to brainpopjr.com
We begin by watching the brainpopjr. movie about solids, liquids, and gases.
Based on our conversations about matter over the past few days, the students are familiar with the terms, and are developing definitions of solids, liquids, and gases, and how they function in our world.
After watching the movie, I ask if anyone has ever played the game, 'memory' or 'concentration.' I explain that this is the same game, just using the computer, and we are trying to find solids, liquids, and gas matches.
I ask for a volunteer to double-click on 2 cards. Double-clicking on the SMARTboard is a learned skill, and one that is tricky for some first graders. A student clicks on 2 cards, and they are not a match.
I explain that even though this was not a match, the student's turn helped us because it showed us what property is on the underside of the card. I remind them that this game is called, 'memory' or concentration, implying that you MUST pay attention.
Next, I ask another volunteer to turn over two cards. When they turn over the cards, I ask the class, "What category do you think that object falls into? Is it a solid, a liquid, or a gas? Sometimes I ask them to turn to their partner, and tell them how they would categorize the object. Other times, I call on someone to share their answer.
This continues until the whole class receives a turn and the game is finished.
During choice time, I put the game on the computer, so that the students can play with a partner.
Go around your house. How many liquids can you find? Draw a picture and write the name of 5 liquids that you find.

Day 3: Creating a Web
The students will learn how to create a web.
The students will develop an understanding of how webs can be an instructional tool, as well as a way to represent their ideas.
The students will work collaboratively with a partner to complete the task.
The students will demonstrate an understanding of properties of matter.
The students will discuss questions that may arise with their partner. In other words, some objects' classification may be unclear, and I hope that this activity will raise some questions, and spark discussion.
I used the web on brainpopjr. If you log on, go into science, then matter, then solids, liquids, and gases. The web is under the heading, 'talk about it.' However, you can make up your own web quite easily. Just make sure the heading says 'matter.' There are 3 offshoots of matter-solids, liquids, and gases.
chart paper
I have already prepared a chart, mimicking the web the students will use. The lessons begins by asking the students to look around the classroom. "Do you notice anything solid in our classroom? Turn to your partner and tell them what you notice." As they name solid objects, I write a few of them in our class web, under the bubble labeled, 'solids.' I do the same for liquids and gases. I explain that they will do the same thing with a partner, they will need to think of more objects that are either solids, liquids or gases. The objects do not have to be in our classroom; they can be from anywhere...our body, the sky, the street, your house, the store, etc.
I break them up into partnerships and send them off with a pencil and a web (one for each partnership). I remind them that spelling may be tricky for some of these objects, but just do your best to spell it.
As they are working, I walk around and conference with partnerships.
Some great questions arose during my conferences. One that sparked some great conversation was gasoline. It has the word 'gas' in it, but is it gas or is it a liquid? One student knew from Tin-Tin that gasolone was petroleum, and petroleum was a liquid. But others were still confused.
Another group had some questions about glue. It is a liquid, but sometimes (like in a glue-stick), it is a solid. That brought up the importance of being specific in your answers...if you just write glue, that might be misunderstood. But if you write 'glue in a bottle,' under liquids, then people will know what you mean.
Afterwards, we return to the rug and discuss our webs. I use their answers to help me fill in the rest of our class web.
Is gasoline a liquid or a gas? How do you know? Prove it!
This activity is a great assessment! I can use the webs as an assessment, as well as my conferences. If they are still putting shoes under the liquid category, then I know we still have some words to do on classification.

Day 4: How Does Matter Change?
The students will recognize how matter changes.
The students will make predictions about what will happen to each object in the freezer or the oven.
The students will learn how to drag an object on the SMARTboard.
The students will begin to ask more questions about matter...how does temperature affect matter? Why do some solids melt in the oven, and others do not?
A SMARtboard
We begin by going on the fossweb website. I click on the game, 'Change It.'
I explain to the students that we are going to see what happens to certain objects in the freezer, and the oven. I ask them what a freezer is? What happens in a freezer? Then, I ask them what an oven is? What happens inside of an oven? Inevitably, temperature comes up as the biggest variable...it is the temperature inside the oven or the freezer that changes the objects.
I ask a volunteer to drag an object into the oven. A student comes up and drags the ice cream cone into the oven. Before they click, 'turn the oven on,' I ask the students to make predictions. What will happen to the ice cream cone inside the oven? After about 30 seconds of conversation, I ask the student to click 'turn the oven on.' A timer pops up, and simulates an hour passing. As the timer moves, the ice cream begins to melt.
After placing a few objects in the oven, we move onto the freezer. We choose an object to place in the freezer. We start with a rock. Once again, before clicking 'turn the freezer on,' I ask the students to make a prediction...what will happen to the rock in the freezer?
This continues until we have moved through most of the objects in both the freezer and the oven. Some of objects spark some great questions. In the freezer category, there is a bowl of oatmeal with a spoon inside of it. The students all agreed that the oatmeal would freeze. But I asked them what was going to happen to the spoon? One student said that the spoon would also freeze, but it wouldn't take the same amount of time as the oatmeal. This was a great discussion...does this mean that objects can freeze at different rates? How does that work? If that is the case, then does the same hold true for the oven?
Another object that sparked great discussion was the bone in the oven because we cook meat in the oven all the time...but what about the bone? What does meat look like when it is cooked? Can the bone cook too? Will its appearance change? Why?
The students loved this activity! Once again, I allowed them to play 'Change It' during Choice Time, so that they could gain more experience with the concepts as well as the tactile component of dragging objects from one place to another.
How Does Matter Change?.doc
As the students make predictions, I believe it will be clear who understands the concepts covered in this lesson. These concepts will be reinforced in their homework, as well as in the next project.

Day 5: Fossweb Comes to Life!
The students will make observations as part of an experiment.
The students will work cooperatively in groups.
The students will document their work, by drawing diagrams and writing about their observations.
The students will develop a better understanding of how temperature affects objects.
The students will discuss their findings with the class.
Our Matter Experiment. doc
Jello (I used Jello with fruit inside, but you could use plain Jello as well).
butter, a candle, water and ice cream, cups
a microwave and a freezer
This lesson is a great follow-up activity to the foss-web SMARTboard activity. The foss-web activity brought up a lot of questions about matter, and I thought this experient would answer some of their questions. I divide the students into partnerships and write the different grouping possibilites on folded small pieces of paper. There are 10 grouping possibilites: Jello in the freezer, Jello in the microwave, water in the freezer, water in the microwave, butter in the freezer, butter in the microwave, ice cream in the freezer, ice cream in the microwave, candle in the freezer, and candle in the microwave. I place each object in a plastic see-through cup. You will need 3 days to conduct this lesson. You may be able to squeeze it into 2 days, but it is better to just plan for 3.
I have prepared paper, divided into 3 parts. They are labeled as first, next and last. Each partnership comes up and chooses a group. We begin by discussing the definition of an observation, and how observing an object can help us. Next, we discuss the definition of an experiment. Why do we conduct experiments?
The students are told that they will make observations of their object. They will do this by drawing diagrams, complete with labels, and writing about their observations in the column labeled 'first.' I ask them to pay particular attention to the sounds the object makes if you jiggle it in the cup, how the object looks, and what state it is in (is it a solid, a liquid or a gas...and how do you know?) If it is a liquid, is it a fast-moving liquid or a slow moving liquid? Is the object transparent?
After we make our initial observations, we take the items slated for the freezer, and put them in the freezer. The items slated for the microwave are placed at room temperature for the next day. After each day's experiment, the students share our observations with the rest of the class.
The next day, we check the items in the freezer, and microwave the objects we placed at room temperature. The students turn their worksheet to the column labeled 'next' and make observations. How did the object change? Did it change? When you jiggle the cup, does it make the same noise as yesterday? In the case of the water, how did the water change shape? The candle takes a long time to microwave, which leeds to many questions...why does the candle take longer than the other objects to melt?
The students come together after they are finished, and we discuss the objects as a whole class. We make a chart labeled, 'How did our objects change?' and fill it out as a whole class. Afterwards, we place our objects in the back of the room, and they sit out at room temperature overnight.
On the last day of the experiment, the students check on their objects at room temperature. They turn to the column labeled 'Last' and write about what the changes in their object. Does it look the same as it did at the beginning of the experiment, or has it changed? I ask them to compare their object to the the partnership with the same object under the opposite condition. Can you tell them apart or do they look identical? This brings up a lot of discussion, so we come together as a class to discuss this topic.
We create a class chart to discuss the similarities and differences between the objects placed in the freezer or the microwave. After sitting at room temperature, do the objects look identical? If not, how do they differ? In other words, does the Jello in the microwave look exactly the same as Jello in the freezer, or can you tell them apart?
How does matter change.doc
During the experiment, I conference with the students, which is a great assessment. Furthermore, during the shares, I am able to assess what they have learned, and whether they understand the concepts.

Jamie Fidler


PS 261
314 Pacific Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Jamie Fidler has been teaching for eight years. She received her Bachelor's Degree and her Master's Degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She has taught in grades K-2, and has been teaching first grade for the past four years at P.S 261. Jamie loves to teach reading, and hopes that she can instill a love of reading in her students.

Important documents for this lesson plan.

grouping objects.doc
How Does Matter Change.doc
our matter experiment.doc


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