Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Matter Matters!

Karen Hamilton
Orange County Schools


This introductory lesson offers an interactive opportunity for the students' prior knowledge to be expressed and extends an understanding of the states of matter (solid, liquid, gas) through inquiry in preparation for more indepth experimentation in heating and cooling.


The student knows that common materials (e.g., water) can be changed from one state to another by heating and cooling.


-Set of three different colored plastic eggs/student group of four
-1 small water balloon/group
-1 small super ball/group
-4 sheets of manila or colored construction paper/group
-Pens/pencils for each student
-2 scissors/group
-2 glue sticks/group
-1 storage bucket/group


1. Assign an air filled colored plastic egg for gas. Seal container so that students do not open.

2. Choose a different colored plastic egg for solid. Insert a small super ball into egg before sealing.

3. Put a little water into a small balloon. Knot off and place into the third different colored egg. Seal.

4. Place “eggs” and other supplies into group buckets.

5. Develop a vocabulary term list.


1. Use a K-W-L chart to assess prior knowledge regarding the states of matter.

2. Students record in journals adding vocabulary terms.

3. Working with shoulder partners (seat partners) and then groups of four, students secure the bucket of supplies and begin observing, discussing, and recording in their journals which egg is solid, liquid, or gas.

4. After coming to a group consensus, students post the results on the board. All group results are compared by having one person from each group explain how the final classification as solid, liquid, or gas was determined.

5. Students make folded-paper pyramids. With an 8 ½” x11” sheet of construction paper, bring one corner to the other side forming a triangle. Cut off the extra rectangular strip. Open the triangle to form the square. Bring the opposite over to form 4 triangles in the square. Cut on one line from the outside to the center. Fold to form a triangular pyramid. Label each side as liquid, solid, or gas. Students use vocabulary terms along with arrows indicating change of state. Caution students not to glue the pyramid together until all vocabulary terms and direction of change arrows have been included. See Associated Files for Matter Vocabulary Word Document and Triangular Pyramid Model Word Document.

6. Students compare their completed model to the teacher model adding ommitted vocabulary and directional arrows as needed.

7. Teacher evaluates student journal entries and triangular pyramids for inclusion of all vocabulary terms and direction of change arrows indicating the change of state. See Associated Files for Matter Vocabulary Word Document and Triangular Pyramid Model Word Document.


Individual journal entries describing and evaluating “egg” observations.
Folded-paper Triangular Pyramid Model for states of matter (solid, liquid, gas).
Vocabulary terms and directional arrows to indicate change from one state to another.
Group cooperative learning leading to consensus of inquiry results.
Teacher observes group interaction and assists when requested.


1. Students use their bodies to demonstrate the amount of space needed for a molecule in the solid, liquid, or gas state.

2. Students illustrate the movement of molecules in solids, liquids, and gases.

Attached Files

Matter Vocabulary Document      File Extension: pdf

Triangular Pyramid Model Document     File Extension: pdf

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