A 60 minute lesson in which students will explore the properties of materials and develop vocabulary to describe them.
Set up six stations with a variety of materials for students to explore. Because each station has a slightly different focus, be sure that the objects you select are suitable and try not to repeat any materials. It would also be helpful to display appropriate descriptive words from the Properties of Materials Word Wall at each station.
A variety of objects made from different materials
This lesson contains a link to an external video. Please watch the video prior to presenting this lesson to ensure that the content is appropriate for your students.
Explain to the students that you are going to play a game of ‘I Spy’, but play it a bit differently. You will say “I spy something that is….” and proceed to describe how an object in the classroom feels. Stress that students are not allowed to guess what the object is until you have used at least three descriptive words. Model a variety of adjectives when giving the clues e.g. heavy, soft, smooth, etc. Repeat this process for another object and then allow students to lead the game.
Explain to the students that during this lesson they will be rotating through a number of stations to explore the properties of materials. Review the five senses and have students predict which one(s) they feel will be used most during this activity. The main objective for these activities is to broaden student vocabulary.
Arrange students into pairs and place two pairs at each station. Let students know there may be no more than two pairs at each station at one time. Students will rotate through each of the stations. Discuss the importance of safety and cleanliness when working at the stations. Describe the requirements of each station listed below. Allow students to ask questions and/or seek clarification where necessary.
Station 1 – Students complete the Describing Materials Template while investigating various pieces of fabric, sheets of plastic, etc. (You will want to make sure to include a variety of textures at this station.) Introduce the term ‘fabric’ and draw the distinction between it and ‘material’. In this unit, the term ‘material’ will refer to anything used to make objects.
Station 2 – Students complete the Describing Materials Template while investigating a mixture of bird seed and popcorn kernels. Include tweezers and empty containers for students to practice their fine motor skills by picking up seeds and transferring them to the containers. Students need to focus on the color, shape, and texture of the seeds.
Station 3 – Students explore the flexility and elasticity of a collection of objects. Objects could include: rubber bands, springs, play-dough, aluminum foil, nylon, and other materials that stretch and return to their original shape or can be manipulated into another form. Rigid objects should also be included.
Station 4 – Students explore a variety of liquids (water, liquid soap, syrup, tomato sauce, honey, slime, etc.) that are presented in trays. A liquid sample is chosen and students predict its viscosity before touching it. Then they use two containers to pour the liquid back and forth observing its properties. This process is repeated for each of the liquids so the students may compare the viscosities. For an extension, students place cards in front of the appropriate trays indicating their viscosities. Then they place the liquids in order from least viscous to most.
Station 5 – Students investigate a collection of objects to explore durability and weight. Objects could include wool, crepe paper streamers, cardboard, metal spoons, heavy pots, etc. Encourage students to manipulate or scratch the objects to test their durability, and lift them to test their weight.
Gather the class together and invite students to share their experiences with the activities. Record any descriptive vocabulary that students use on the whiteboard. Then allow students to find these words on the Properties of Materials word wall.
Encourage more confident students to select one adjective and list as many objects as they can that have that description.
Encourage less confident students to explain their observations verbally. Make teacher notes of their comments.
Suggested Assessment Strategies
used strategic whole class or individual questioning
observed student participation during learning activities