Teaching States of Matter

Learning about the “properties of physical matter” probably doesn’t sound like the most exciting topic to your class. Just seeing those words on the board might make your kids yawn and look for the nearest exit. Don’t worry- you can make this science lesson one of the most memorable and exciting parts of the year! 

The properties of matter, including physical and chemical changes, is an important building block for the study of science.  It’s necessary for students to understand the basics before attacking chemistry in later years. It’s also a vital part of understanding the world around them! Talking about solids, liquids, and gases is not the most effective way to gain the attention of your learners.

 Instead, hands-on STEM activities will let them experience the topic and gain a deeper understanding. 

To help you take your lessons to the next level, I created these States of Matter STEM Activities.

They are a perfect choice for teaching your class about matter in a fun and engaging way.

matter

 Students can use the flipbook, vocabulary words, and charts to organize their learning and to refer back to during your science unit. 

Also included are hands-on activities that will let students experience the properties rather than just reading about them! The investigations are planned for you, and include worksheets where students can write about their observations.

matter

 Your kids will record and measure during the activities, practicing important data collection skills.

matter

Here’s a quick look at everything included: 

  • Matter Flipbook
  • Matter Writing Paper
  • Matter Chart
  • Matter Vocabulary Words and Word Wall Words
  • Milk Experiment
  • Ice and Salt Experiment
  • Soda Geyser
  • Candy Experiment
  • Matter Breakfast Ideas
  • Density Jar
  • Balloon Gas Experiment
  • Website Links
  • Pop Ice Investigation

I also love to teach lessons about slime during this unit. What student doesn’t love slime? You can check out my SLIME activities to help plan your slime lessons.

matter
matter

For more science lesson ideas, check out my post here!

How do you get your students excited to learn during science lessons? Let me know in the comments!

Halloween STEM Activities

It’s already October, and Halloween is just around the corner! With the promise of candy, costumes, and fun in the air, students are more than ready for some exciting activities. I enjoy changing up our daily routines with something seasonal, and they feel like they’re getting a special treat during the school day. My kids love the spooky season, and any lessons with pumpkins, skeletons, and spiders are sure to be a hit. Your little ghosts and goblins will love some spooky fun too! 

STEM activities are so important in today’s classroom. Students need frequent practice with problem-solving, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring.  Including some seasonal fun gets kids excited to practice! While students “play” with spider webs or skeleton bones, they are still using those creative thinking skills to solve problems. It’s a win-win in my classroom!

The Halloween STEM activities pack includes four lessons that will engage your students’ engineering skills. The topics are perfect for keeping kids interested while they engage in STEM learning. 

Halloween STEM

They will design, problem solve, and use math skills while having fun with spooky themes. Creative thinking skills are so important, and students can practice using them without another “boring” lesson. The activities would be perfect for whole class lessons, small groups, or at-home fun. You could even use them as rotations for a classroom celebration! 

Halloween STEM

Here’s what you’ll get with the Halloween Stem Activities

  • Candy Corn Water Bottle Flipping (Data Collection) 
  • Spider Web Challenge (Design Challenge) 
  • Bone Tower of Terror (Measurement) 
  • Pumpkin Structures
  • Non-fiction website links provided
Halloween STEM

If youre looking for more fun ways to celebrate Halloween in your classroom this year, check out these book inspired costume ideas for teachers here!

Do you like to do Halloween activities this time of year? Let me know how you incorporate it into your lessons in the comments below!

Halloween STEM

October Holiday Stem Challenges

Raise your hand if you knew that every day in October was a holiday? It totally is! Did you know there was such a thing as Bathtub Day? How about Fire Prevention Day? Mad Hatter Day? It is full of holidays you probably never even knew about. And let me tell you, the students think it’s hilarious. I love celebrating holidays in my classroom because they are such a fun way to break up the day to day routine and add a little excitement to the day by doing some holiday stem challenges.

Incorporating these wacky holidays into your lesson plans and activities is a great way to engage your students in fun ways to learn about historical facts. I particularly love to tie these into my STEM activities. I will teach my students about fun history facts and then incorporate some designing, engineering, and other STEM elements to get them to tap into their problem solving abilities. 

The best way to do this is to give your students as many opportunities to think creatively as possible. The more they get the opportunity to think of creative ways to solve problems, the easier it is for them to find solutions. This is why I feel it is so important  to plan for plenty creative experiences in your classroom and integrate them into your lessons. 

My Every Day Is A Holiday October STEM Challenge resource is a great way to easily add fun and creative activities to get your students participating in holiday STEM challenges with a fun theme to match the day of the month. 

I make it easy for you because I include daily holiday challenges so your lessons are taken care of for the entire month of October. Each day you’ll get an opportunity to discuss with your students a holiday or activity to get them thinking, asking questions, planning, designing, and creating. 

holiday stem challenges

Some days you will have materials that are needed, some days it is recommended that you just use what you have in your classroom already! You can enhance your students’ problem solving skills by thinking creatively about how to use the supplies they have on hand. They’ll also learn what will or won’t work. 

This resource is truly all you need to have an entire month of lessons and activities ready to go that your students will love!  

Do you use any little known holidays in your lessons? Let me know in the comments below!

Looking for some Halloween STEM challenges? Check out my post here!

Halloween STEM Activities

by Julie Herrera

One of my favorite October STEM projects is making Haunted Houses. I have done this for the last 3 years with our entire school. This Halloween project can also work with a class, small group, or as an independent project.


We make 5 creative spooky haunted houses, one for each day of the week. I assign a day of the week and a job to each class. The whole school, each house would have a Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade class. It doesn’t always work out that way, so I have to adjust jobs. Nothing is so difficult that it can’t completed by another grade.

Yay! for Kindergarten STEM Jobs: Engineers/ Architects/ Planning Commission


Since Kindergarteners are new to STEM, I make them the Planning Commission. I put a large number of cardboard boxes and tubes on the floor and let them decide what the structure will look like. Nothing glued or taped together, only stacked. They have to work together and agree on their final plan. Then I take a picture and print it so the rest of their team will know what their house should look like in the end. I am always amazed at how different each house looks. The boxes in this house are now set aside and labeled with the day, so they are not used again.

1st Grade STEM Jobs: Painters/ Artists


1st grade gets to paint everything. My second year, I decided to use 5 colors, one for each day, and let one student draw what color their house will be. This helps keep the boxes separate as the week goes on and boxes are everywhere. Storage is always an issue when doing large STEM projects. I give everyone time to paint parts of the house and switch out students so everyone gets a chance to take part. We talk about how a haunted house looks, old and run down, so perfection is not what we are going for.
Now it is time to put the house together.

2nd Grade: Construction Team/ Builders

2nd graders use the materials to construct the house. Duct tape, hot glue (with adult supervision), and Make Do screws are my top 3. They have to figure out the best way to get it all together and sturdy enough to stay together. They work in small groups, again switching out so everyone gets a turn.

3rd Grade Jobs: Details/ Designers

3rd grade gets to add the details. By this time, the house has taken on a “feel”. We talk about what it looks like to them. Does it remind them of anything? We have made old castles, closed factories, run down churches, etc. This helps to decide the details that need to add. They decide where windows and doors should be and I cut them out with an Exacto knife, to be safe. Added details include steps, fences, animals, ghosts, tombstones, spiderwebs, etc. They can come up with much better ideas than me.
The house is now built and decorated, so it is time to add some lights.

4th Grade Jobs: Lights/Electricians

4th grade uses some simple circuits, cooper tape and a battery, to add this detail. They have to show me they know what to do and how it works before actually working on the house. We have Snap Circuits which are great to get them started. After they have worked with them for a while, they can start using the cooper tape. It is a little more challenging and takes some practice. I always have a group that will stick with it and they are the ones that get to work on the house. They decide where the lights should be and what color lights.

5th Grade Jobs: Sound Effects/Tech Support


5th grade is fun because they get to add sound effects. Again, with this job they have to show me they know what they are doing. We start by talking about what sounds would we hear at a haunted house. On Chromebooks and iPads, we practice recording sounds. We also have some littleBits that are great to use for this. Snap Circuits have some sound effects too. And again, the students who want to keep going can then start working as a team on adding sounds to the house. They decide what sounds and how they will work.

Fall Festival

In the end, we have 5 houses that everyone is so proud of. I display them in the hallway with the class names who worked on them, so everyone can enjoy. There are always lots “Oooohs” and “Aaahs!” We have a Fall Festival and we auction the houses off so one lucky student gets to take it home.
This is a fun, collaborative project that gets students excited about lots of STEM areas.

Other Fun STEM Challenges & Great October Books

4 Back to School Activities & 2 BTS Freebies

Welcome to our classroom!😀🥳

Wow, what a first week! It was filled with so many emotions, but the one word that keeps popping up in my head is the word GRATITUDE! I’m so grateful that I’m a teacher and I love my job.  Seeing all my students and knowing there were smiling face under those little masks 🥰, brought some sort of normalcy back to this crazy (unprecedented) year!

I know everyone has different emotions going back, but it was very important to me to make our classroom learning environment as special as possible.  It was truly for the kids; parents could even come in the building! 

Ok, so maybe blowing up some of the balloons was a stress reliever too! My hope was to make the classroom a place that brighten up their day!

I also love displaying my elementary students’ school work! It can be outside in the hallway or all over my door! Back to School Classroom Decorations are so fun! 😀😀 I want my students to know I value their school work and I want it front and center. ❤️

Creating a Positive Classroom Environment! 

Back to School Activity 1: Read Snippet and give students a bag of snippets (bright colored paper) to create their own designs! This book has such a great message about how all shapes are special and unique. https://amzn.to/2QCUP9Y

Activity 2: Where is Math in your house? (FREE Worksheet) To get students thinking about math is so important, when building a math community of learners.

Activity 3: All About You Worksheet Free worksheet

Activity 4: Make a Crayon Box: Back to School STEM Students create a crayon box for their crayons! 😀 Students loved this activity and I connect it with the book The Crayon Man. https://amzn.to/2YPMrIT

Back to School Activities

Getting to know my students, is one of my biggest goals the first few weeks back to school! It’s important to build a classroom community where all my fifth-grade students feel safe and a part of our class.  This year’s Back to School activities will look different, but getting to know my students will still be on the top of my list. How can I get to know my students individually no matter what type of classroom environment we have?  How do I keep my students safe while actively engaging them in learning?

  • distance learning
  • remote learning
  • blended learning
  • on-site learning

Elementary teachers everywhere are trying to answer these questions!

Back to School: Find Someone Who… Getting to Know Your Class Bingo (Free) is a fun activity where students go around getting their peers signature on their worksheets.  This year I’m going to modify this activity by making it on shared Google Slides.  Each slide will have an event or activity and students can write their names on the slides that they can answer.  

 

Get to Know You Activities:

I have a set Get to Know Your Class Cards (Free) that my students use while interviewing their peers.  Back to School Activity gets my students collaborating and learning about the interest of each others.  (I’m now thinking of ways to do this activity so it’s engaging but also safe for our students to do!)

Back to School Family Bulletin Board:

I send a note home saying to bring a family photo for our Class Family Bulletin Board.  (I also take photos the night of open house, so I can make sure I get one from everyone). I feel like this gives my students a feeling of family and hopefully safety. 

Back to School Read Alouds:

  • Just Ask! By Sonia Sotomayor This is a great book to read to your class, it talks about brave students who live with challenging conditions and how they preserve through life’s challenges.
  • The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson is also one of my favorite first day of school reads! This helps us rank how nervous we were about meeting our new classmates.
  • I Wish You More by Amy Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

This is the perfect book to start the school year with. I wish you more… and we set goals for our great. Here is a link for a free printable worksheet My wish for you for students to use.

 

I have a ton of favorite read alouds to start the year off! If you want to check out all my favorite pictures books on Amazon, click here!

Looking for other activities for the first week of school. 

 

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