Lesson plan

States of Matter and State Changes

Define/review solid, liquid and gas. Do activities that show state changes. Optionally include a snack made through state changes.
Science content
Chemistry: States of Matter, Properties of Materials (K-7)
Chemistry: Physical Changes, Solutions, Mixtures and Separating (2, 4, 5, 6)

Do a selection of the activities.

Indoor activity ideas:

Introduce/review that everything is made up of tiny tiny particles, too small to see. (An atom is 10-10m, or 10 million in a dot one mm wide.)
In a solid the particles are packed close together, that is why a solid feels hard. In a liquid they are further apart. In a gas they are far enough apart that we can move through them easily - move your hand through the air and the wind you feel on your hand is the molecules bumping into your hand.
Either ask students to point to examples of the states in the classroom, or do the states of matter scavenger hunt.
[Some students may also point out that plasma is also a state of matter, which it is. The sun contains plasma.]
Optional: book on states of matter: “Matter” First Fact book (Capstone Press)

With classroom or hallway space, act out the states of matter to model what the particles are doing in each state (maybe using water in epsom painting as an example for liquid to gas).

If doing frost, set up before the next activity.

Epsom salt painting: show epsom salts dissolving in water to show students what is in the solution that they will paint with. As the students paint and see crystals forming, describe how the water evaporates from the paper, leaving behind the epsom salts.

Look at state changes in water (including the icy frost formed on the cans, if they were set up).
Optional: as part of this activity measure the temperature of water in the different states of matter.

Dancing raisins is a simple activity on state changes and density that can be extended into interesting discussions.
Note that dissolved carbon dioxide gas is no longer a gas, but in a "dissolved state".

A snack that exploits state changes:
Popcorn and skits, or ice cream. Students can act out what is happening to the molecules as they change state to make the snack.

For an outdoor lesson (no electricity available):
Start by introducing or review the concept of solid, liquid and gas.
Optionally act out the states of matter
Demonstration of molecules moving in warm and cold water
Optionally, with older students, act out the molecules in warm water and cold water: students have two different coloured cards, to show that the card colours mix up more if there is more energy (warmer water) and mix less with less energy (cold water).
Dry ice in water to show state changes of carbon dioxide and water at different temperatures.
Dancing raisins, to show state changes and relative densities of raisins that sink and float (with attached gas bubbles).

Grades taught
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5
Gr 6