Beacon Lesson Plan Library

What Is the Matter with Water?

Joanne Johnson


How fast can you make an ice cube melt? After students observe water as a liquid, solid, and gas, they compete to see how fast they can make an ice cube melt.


The student understands that physical changes in the states of matter can be produced by heating and cooling.


-Container of water (quart size)
-One ice cube in a sealable plastic bag for each student
-Hotplate and pot or electric hot pot
-Several pictures from magazines of water in the three states of matter
-10 pictures of various kinds of matter for each group
-Copy of Classification Chart for groups of four (See associated file)
-1/2 cup baking soda
-1/2 cup of distilled vinegar
-One aluminum pie pan
-Two clear water glasses
-8 oz. Root beer soda
-2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
-Chalkboard and chalk
-Chart paper for classification chart
-Copy of Forms of Water for each student (See associated file)
-Examples: wooden block (1), glass of water (1), mothball (1)


1. Download the classification chart and forms of matter worksheet and make copies.
2. Prepare class classification chart on chart paper.
3. Review lesson with emphasis on definitions.
4. Gather all materials and place on a table in front of classroom.


1. Make an ice cream soda and ask students to observe what happens when you add the soda to the ice cream. Have them describe the ingredients in detail (e.g. flavor, water, etc.) in the ice cream soda and list on chalkboard for later reference.

2. Tell students that the ice cream soda provides a picture of the three states of matter: solid (ice cream), liquid (soda), and gas (bubbles from carbon dioxide in soda). Ask them what happened when you added the soda. Write on the board any answers that apply to the lesson and give positive feedback. Let students know that this lesson will help them distinguish between the three forms of matter of water and the physical changes that occur from heating and cooling water.

3. Define matter. Have students look around classroom and give examples. If non-examples are given, ask if the item occupies space and has weight.

4. Define solid, liquid, and gas. Show an example of each (wooden block, glass of water, moth ball). Use pictures from magazine to show examples for each as you review definitions. Have a student attach each picture to the classification chart under the correct heading after each explanation providing feedback. Also, you may ask the class if they agree with the answer as peer feedback. For a quick review, randomly choose students to identify pictures or examples that you show as solid, liquid, or gas.

5. Distribute Classification Chart to groups of 3. Assign each student in the group a form of matter to complete. Explain to students that they are to paste the pictures under the correct heading. While the students are doing this, start heating the water. Make sure all safety precautions are followed while doing this. Formatively assess group work as you walk around the room making sure all students are fully engaged in the group activity.

6. Have a representative from each group quickly share their results.

7. Distribute one ice cube in a sealed baggy to each student. Ask students to identify the form of matter. Briefly discuss how the water became a solid.

8. Explain the ice cube-melting contest. The student that finds a method to completely melt his/her ice cube first gets an ice cream soda. The ice cube must stay in the baggy. The student can do anything they want to melt the ice cube, but must stay in the classroom. Observe and discuss the physical changes of the ice cube and remind students of definition of solid and liquid. Ask why the ice cube melted.

9. Have students turn their attention to the boiling pot of water. Ask them to observe physical changes occurring. Write responses that apply on the chalkboard.

10. Place three ice cubes in the aluminum pan and hold it ten inches above the boiling water. As the ice cube melts, pour the liquid into the pot. Ask the students to tell you what happened. Review the physical changes of the ice cube and remind students of definition of a gas.

11. Distribute a copy of Forms of Water to each student. They will draw an example of the three states of matter for water and label. Also, they are to write a complete sentence describing the drawing.

12. Close the lesson by performing a simple experiment. In a clear glass, put a half cup of baking soda and a half cup of vinegar. Ask the students to identify the state of matter for each ingredient before mixing. Have them observe the reaction and write a complete sentence describing what happened. The teacher will give formative feedback.


Each student draws an example of water in the three phases of matter and labels accordingly as a formative assessment. Student writes a complete sentence to describe drawings and a sentence to describe the physical changes that occur when water is heated or cooled.

Attached Files

(1) Forms of Water worksheet, (2) Classification Chart     File Extension: pdf

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