Beacon Lesson Plan Library

States of Water

Sandi King
Bay District Schools


Students identify the various states of water. Hypothesizing and hands-on experimenting on changing the states of water assists students in understanding the properties of water and the role of heating and cooling in the changes of state.


The student knows the effects of heating and cooling on solids, liquids and gases.

The student knows the physical properties of ice, water, and steam.


- The book, Zoehfeld, Kathleen W. [What Is the World Made Of? All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases]. New York, Scott Foresman. 1998. or the book, Seixas, Judith S. [Water, What It Is and What It Does]. New York. Greenwillow Books. 1987.
- Pitcher of water
- Hot plate
- Pot for boiling water
- Ice tray, or some other small container for freezing water
- Access to a freezer
- Thermometer that can be used to measure both boiling temperatures and freezing temperatures in water
- Chart paper and markers for recording data


1. Locate the class made chart from Day 5 of the Unit Plan, Our Picnic, The Study of Matter.

2. Locate and preview [What Is the World Made Of? All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases] or [Water, What It Is and What It Does], or a similar book that discusses the characteristics of water in its different states.

3. Locate a large clear pitcher for water.

4. Locate a hot plate and pot for boiling water.

5. Locate an ice tray or several small plastic containers that can be used for freezing water.

6. Locate a thermometer that can be used in boiling water and in the freezer.

7. Prepare a chart for recording students' hypotheses.

8. Prepare a chart for recording times and temperatures

9. For assistance in finding the books suggested for this lesson, go to Sunlink on the Web at This site allows you to find the schools in each county that have a specific book. Follow these instructions: (1) Type the URL in the address line of your browser. The URL is (2) Click the button for Begin Your Search. (3) Click the part of Florida for your county. (4) Click your specific county. (5) Type the title of the book. No other information needs to be typed here. (6) Click the Find It button. (7) Click the title of the book that appears to receive the Full Record. At the bottom of the Full Record is the location of the book. (8) Request the book from the school shown.

10. Many of these activities can be used with the language arts blocks or periods. For more information on the use of these blocks see the following book. Cunningham, Patricia M., et al. [The Teacher's Guide to the Four Blocks]. Greensboro, NC. Carson-Dellosa Publishing Company. Inc. 1999.


1. This is lesson plan five of seven lesson plans for the Unit Plan, Our Picnic, The Study of Matter. If you are interested in completing the entire unit, please see the Extensions section of this lesson plan for further information.

2. Using the class made chart from Day 5, review the three states of matter and the characteristics of each.

3. To draw the students' interest and thoughts to the states of water, read [Water, What It Is and What It Does] or [What Is the World Made Of? All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases].

4. Ask the students to wonder aloud whether it would be possible for the states of water to change. After all, a solid chair can’t become a liquid chair. Could solid water become liquid water? Through questioning, ask for ideas of how this can be done.

5. Show a pitcher of water. Have the students use prior knowledge to hypothesize how water can be changed so that the water will be seen in all three states.

6. Using the established characteristics from the Day 5 chart, guide students to the conclusion that the water in the pitcher is a liquid.

7. It is always our purpose to have the students use hands-on for activities, but safety is our first concern. Demonstrate extreme care when using a hot plate around students.

8. Present the problem of changing the liquid water to a gas. Using a hot plate, boil some of the water. On a new chart, record the temperature of the water when first poured into the pot. Then record the temperature of the water when the first steam appears. While the water is boiling, review the characteristics of a gas.

9. Record what the students think will happen to the liquid in the pot that is now boiling.

10. Establish that the liquid water has turned into a gas. Be sure that students understand the cause of this change is the heating of the water.

11. Present the problem of changing the liquid water to a solid. Have the students hypothesize how this can be done.

12. Pour some water from the pitcher into an ice tray or small plastic containers. Record the temperature of the water in the pitcher. Record the temperature of the water just poured into the ice tray. Establish that the water is the same temperature and is a liquid in all containers. This eliminates the misconception that the container could have any effect on the water temperature or state.

13. Before placing the containers in the freezer, record the temperature of the freezer.

14. Record what the students think will happen to the water in the freezer and how long they think it will take to happen.

15. Throughout the day (I suggest every half hour), check on the water in the freezer and record the elapsed time and present temperature. This can easily be done by assigning groups of students to do these observations each half hour. One member of the group is the leader, one the recorder, and one the temperature taker. Then the entire class is not disrupted, and the students are more actively involved.

16. Upon solid freezing, remove the water from the freezer and allow the students to observe its properties in the solid state.

17. Compare the record of what actually happened to the water in the different states to the record of what the students hypothesized would happen. Be sure that students conclude that the change in temperature is what caused the change in state. The purpose of this activity is for students to understand the physical properties of ice, water, and steam, and to know that the states of water can be changed through heating and cooling.

18. Give verbal formative feedback as students discuss their hypotheses and the actual results. Students need affirmative feedback, such as: Absolutely! You know it is the heat that made the liquid water change to steam that is a gas. Students also need corrective feedback, such as: You are on the right track. Did you notice that the water in the pot was on the burner for a long time before the water changed to steam? What do you think caused the change?


This lesson plan is the fifth of seven lesson plans in the Unit Plan, Our Picnic, The Study of Matter. The standards addressed will be formatively assessed as the students observe the three states of water and hypothesize and then test their hypotheses as to how to cause the states of water to change. The teacher will give corrective and affirmative feedback.


1. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s 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).

2. Experiment with other materials to find the effects of heating and cooling. Here are some examples. Solid wax, when heated, melts to a liquid just like solid water. The temperature at which this occurs is very different and can be established using room temperature as a guide. Water remains a liquid at room temperature. Wax remains a solid at room temperature. Another example is sugar that becomes a liquid when heated, but freezing sugar brings no change in state.

3. Other books on this same subject include:
1) Schloat, G. Warren, Jr. [The Magic of Water]. New York. Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1955.
2) Podendorf, Illa. [Stepping Into science, Things To Do With Water]. Chicago. Children's Press. 1971. 4-10.
3) Hagaman, Adaline. [What is Water]. Chicago. Benefic Press. 1960. 5 – 18.
4) Broekel, Ray. [A New True Book, Experiments With Water]. Chicago. Children’s Press. 1988. 5 - 11.

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