Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Matter Matters

Jennifer Slichter
Santa Rosa District Schools


This is lesson one of a unit titled, Weather Trackers. Students learn by observation and hands-on activities the act of water changing form from a solid to a liquid to a gas.


The student knows examples of solids, liquids, and gases.


-Several ice cubes
-Insulated container
-Pitcher of water
-Electric skillet
-Chart labeled Solid, Liquid, Gas
-Matter Matters worksheet (one per student)
-Book [Ice to Rain] by Marlene Reidal (Carolrhoda, 1981)
-Chalkboard, bulletin board or chart paper for word list (optional)
-Drawings, sketches or clip art for the word list (optional)


1. Put ice cubes in a classroom refrigerator or an insulated lunch box packed with blue ice.
2. Borrow a small microwave oven, bowl or bucket, cups, and electric skillet.
3. Prepare chart by labeling SOLID LIQUID GAS and decide if you want to create a word chart for the unit with drawings or clip art.
4. Borrow or check out the book [Ice to Rain] by Marlene Reidal (Carolrhoda, 1981).
5. Locate various pictures of water in a solid, liquid, and gas state to help visiual students learn. (optional)


1. Introduce lesson by reading from [Ice to Rain] by Marlene Reidal (Carolrhoda, 1981). Discuss book and tell students that they will learn more about how water changes form.

2. NOTE: The book can be read aloud and discussed during your class Read Aloud time or in small groups prior to beginning the science lesson. Place the book in a center or make it available to students to look at during the day. If the book is read separately from the science lesson, conduct a brief review for students prior to doing procedure 3.)

3. Tell students you are going to do a science experiment with them. Have two ice cubes in an insulated container. Have a student volunteer come to the front and place his hand in the container and guess what objects the container holds.

4. Hold the ice cubes up to the class and write ice on the board. Ask students what the ice is made of and then proceed to write water on the board. NOTE: You may wish to keep a "word" chart or bulletin board available for students to use during the duration of the unit. If so, you will want to sketch something to help students remember the words as you write them on the chart. Clip art is an excellent source to use by enlarging the drawings, printing them and pasting them to the chart. You will need to secure these drawings prior to each lesson by determining which words will be added to the chart or board daily. If you have an artistic bent, feel free to sketch something for the students.

5. Put one ice cube in a cup. Put another ice cube on top of an electric skillet. Before turning the skillet on have students predict which ice cube will melt quicker. Turn the skillet on and count with students how many seconds it takes the ice cube to melt. Point out and show that the one in the cup has not melted as quickly. Remind students that the heat makes objects melt more quickly.

6. Ask students what object is in the sky outside that gives us heat. Generate responses and write sun on the board or chart.

7. Outside experiment: Tell students that when the class goes outside we are going to do another experiment and place two cups that contain an ice cube in two different locations. One will be in direct sunlight and the other will be in a shady location. We will see which ice cube melts quicker. Allow students to predict, count the votes and record them on the board. Once the experiment is completed, refer back to the predictions and lauding the ones who predicted the cube in the sun would melt more quickly.

8. After returning to the classroom, write the word matter on the board. Tell students that matter is a special name for any object that has weight and occupies space. Point to an ice cube and say that this is matter because it has weight and occupies space. Explain that I can see it, touch it and feel it and that matter can exist in three forms.

9. Point to the chart labeled in three sections: SOLID LIQUID GAS. As a class group activity list ice cubes as a solid form. Explain that solid means a substance that is hard and keeps its form no matter what shape container it is put in. Review the concept of solids with students by having students give examples of other solid forms of matter. Place them in a bowl or bucket and point out that they keep their shape, no matter what container they are put into. Write and discuss a word list of other forms of solid water such as glaciers, frozen pond, snow.

10. Discuss forms of liquid matter. Explain to students that matter that is liquid changes shape to match the container that it is being held in. Pour a cup of water from a pitcher into each of these: a tall glass , a short cup and a bowl and allow class to discuss how the cup of water looks different in the different containers but each container holds the exact same amount. Discuss what happened to the ice cube outside when it was melted. Lead students to understand that it turned into water. Water is a liquid. Ask the following questions: Can we feel liquid? Can we see liquid? Can we touch liquid? Can we stand on liquid that is not frozen? Can we pour liquid into another container?

11. List and discuss forms of liquid matter. Concentrate on places where we could find liquid water. List class responses such as cup of water, pool, fish bowl, ocean, river, stream, swimming pool, bath tub. Point out that the water takes the shape of the container. Have the class think of other forms of matter that are liquid that are not water. Generate responses such as a bowl of soup.

12. Point to the part of the chart labeled Gas. Point out that when the ice cube melted on the electric skillet steam was rising. Steam is a gas. Have students list items they have seen that have been steaming. Generate responses such as a bowl of soup, a cup of chili, a cup of tea, a cup of coffee, a steam iron etc. Ask students if they can remember steam coming from the ground after a heavy rain in very hot weather. At this time, put a cup of water in the microwave on high for four minutes

13. Ask students to guess if steam always travels up or down. Remind students to think of a pot of boiling water and try to remember if the steam was going up or down. Get responses. Record class predictions with tally marks on the board. Quickly review how to count the tally marks.

14. Get the cup of water out of the microwave. Demonstrate to class how the steam travels in an upward direction by observing the steam coming from the cup. Put your hand high over the class and tell students that you are able to feel the hot steam rising. Caution them NOT to do this since it could burn their hands.

15. Tell the class to play a quick riddle game for fun. Say: I am an object in the sky. Some people ride in my basket for fun and we travel in the sky. What am I? (Hot air balloon). Discuss how the hot air rises in the balloon and makes the balloon rise in the sky and hot air is released in the balloon to make the balloon descend.

16. Review the three forms of matter of water. Discuss: ice is a solid form of matter and when heat is applied to the ice it melts and turns into a liquid. When the heat becomes high enough the liquid turns into steam.

17. Quickly write Solid, Liquid, and Gas on the board. Tell students that a form of matter will be called out and they can raise their hands to guess if the object is a solid, liquid or gas. The volunteers will go to the board and place a tally mark under the right column. Model this behavior by doing an example. Remind students that tally marks are a way to keep track of information or data.

18 Pass out the assessment worksheet called Matter Matters. Read directions to the class and answer any questions. Allow students to use the word chart or board to help complete the worksheet.

19. Collect completed worksheets.


Assess the diagnostic. Students should not receive a score, however, you should note which concepts, skills and ideas should be taught within the unit. All students may not need to be taught all the skills, concepts, and ideas. You will have to make that determination based on your students and their diagnostic assessment scores.

Students are assessed by observation throughout the lessons and by using a formative worksheet. On the sheet students are asked to identify examples of water in a solid, liquid, or gas form. After students complete worksheet collect and provide feedback. Students should complete the worksheet with 80% accuracy or be given more opportunites to master the necessary skills in the future. Also, keep a list of students who are observed having difficulty with the concept or who cannot answer class discussion questions. Make sure to call on those students throughout the lessons, reinforcing the ideas and concepts, offering extra feedback and guidance.


1. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page of by using the following URL: Once you select the unitís link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, Associated Files. This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

Attached Files

Matter Matters Worksheet     File Extension:  pdf
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