ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Science Activities for Young Children - States of Matter Unit

Updated on July 16, 2013
My youngest daughter discovering the power of gaseous matter.
My youngest daughter discovering the power of gaseous matter. | Source

One of the basics of science that will be necessary for most all later studies is a knowledge of the states of matter. If you avoid the higher states that are used in more advanced science this is something that can easily be introduced and understood by young children. Moreover your child will enjoy seeing how the states of mater change.

Overview of the States of Matter

Begin with a basic overview. Don't stress about your child understanding everything after the initial lesson. Your goal for this lesson is just to introduce the terms and ideas, which you will expand upon in the later lessons.

Just tell your child that matter can exists in different states. Most of what we interact with are solids. When you add energy (often in the form of heat) the matter will change to liquid. Liquid must be contained in a container. Add energy to liquid and it becomes a gas, which we can not see.

Read the first pages through eight of What Is the World Made Of? by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld. It is a "Let's Read and Find Out Science" stage 2 book and provides an excellent child level explanation of matter.

Solid Matter Experiment

Solids are the least energetic of the states of matter. Solids retain their shape with or without a container. Objects will become solid if energy is removed. In this experiment we will remove the energy by cooling.

Allow your child to place water in a small container and place it in the freezer. Have her check on the water every hour until it freezes. Reiterate that the water froze because you removed energy from the liquid causing it to revert to its solid state.

Different Types of Matter

Remind your child that everything is made of matter. Then talk to your child about the different kinds of matter. Read your science book together to page 14 for a good description of each state of matter.


  • Solids do not change shape (unless acted upon) and even when broken each piece retains it's shape.
  • Liquids flow to fill their container. They can move fast or slow but they will always spread out to fill their container. Liquids are poured.
  • Gases can not be seen, but we can feel (and sometimes smell) them. Gases fill their entire space (think balloon versus cup).

End the days lesson by having your child move about the room identifying several solids and liquids. If you have a fan, set it up so that your child can feel the air moving and identify it as a gas.

Liquid Matter Experiment

Provide your child with a series of objects some liquid and some solid in containers. (Provide honey or some other thick liquid so that your child can see that not all liquids are the same.) Have your child identify the liquids. Explain again that liquids will flow to fill their containers where as solids retain their shape.

Next remove the ice from the previous experiment and monitor its transition from solid to liquid. Explain that the energy is being added in the form of heat. Place the ice on a dish so that your child can see that as the matter changes from solid to liquid the water begins to flow over the dish, filling it.

Why Matter Changes

Gather your students in a circle. Explain that we know everything is made up of matter. Matter is actually made of tinier particles called atoms. Atoms are constantly moving. "Today we are going to pretend to be atoms."

"Let's all join hands." Atoms in a solid are closely joined together. They can wiggle about but can't move very far. Like slow dancing.

"Now let's dance a little faster." Atoms in a liquid are more loosely bound. Notice how some of us let go of a neighbor's hand, but many of us are still holding on to one another.

"Now dance really fast." Notice how all of us have broken apart and spread out to fill up the whole room. This is similar to what happens in a gas when we add heat. The atoms break apart and spread out to fill up the room.

Key points to emphasize in this lesson:

  • Matter makes up everything
  • As energy is added the bonds in matter become looser.
  • As energy is added matter changes state from solid to liquid to gas.

Gaseous Matter Experiment

Reminder your child that matter can also exists as a gas even though we can not see it. We know that there is air all around us because we are breathing it in. When we get balloons at a party they too are filled with air. Have your child blow into a balloon to demonstrate that air really does take up space. Weigh the filled balloon versus and unfilled balloon on a balance to show the weight of a gas.

Measure out a cup of water. Boil that water on the stove and let your child observe the steam. After the water has boiled for a time pour the remaining water into a measuring cup and let your child see that the amount has changed. Explain that this is because the water turned to vapor, a gas, and escaped into the air.

Matter Matching and Memory Games

Matter Matching Game

Acquire a variety of pictures of matter in various states including a pictures of water in the three states.

Place the three pictures of water on one side of the table. Give your child several of the other pictures and have her match those pictures to the corresponding water picture. (For example a picture of milk would match the picture of a glass of water, while a helium balloon would match with the picture of water vapor rising from a pot.)

Matter Memory Game

Similar to the matching game, but in this instance you will need to be certain that there are an even number of each type of matter picture (for example: four gases, eight liquid and twelve solids).

Place all the pictures face down on the table.

As with any memory game have your child flip over two pictures and determine if they make a match. Are they both liquids? Solids? Gases?

If they make a match remove them. Otherwise, flip the pictures back over and try again.

Play until all pictures have been matched.

Either game is a fun review of the states of matter. Try playing again several days and/or weeks after you have finished this unit to refresh your child's memory of what she learned.

End the unit by going over the states of matter again with your child. Read through your entire What Is the World Made Of? book. Have her draw an illustration demonstrating the changes in matter. Remind your child that these changes are caused by energy. Finally, you can sing the states of matter song together. Enjoy learning together.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)