There are many states of matter. The most common and everyday states are solid, liquid and gas. In this post we will focus on solids and we will study liquids and gases later. In solids the atoms and molecules are packed so tightly together they cannot move. They can only vibrate. This means that solids hold their form. They do not need a container like liquids to prevent from making a mess.
We studied solids through some items we found around the house. We both gathered a few items for later study. Our end result was three soft animals, a book, baby’s toy keys, napkin, a barbie-doll, my little pony Twilight Sparkle, chocolate, a soft construction block.
First I asked daughter to organise them according to how hard they were (bottom left in image), so she squeezed and prodded them until they were in the order she was happy with. Then I asked her to organise them according to how round or curved they were into curved and straight piles (bottom right). Then I asked her to organise them according to how shiny they were. Finally I asked her to try to pile them up (top right). We talked about how they retain their shape, don’t need a container and return back to their original shape after being pressed. The idea of these experiments is to basically just learn to look at items from different viewpoints and categorise and organise them according to different criteria.
Later that day we looked at more difficult to determine solids like sugar (needs a container when there is a lot of crystals, but is still solid) and pureed food (sweet potato for the baby). Daughter was not fooled about sugar. She stated firmly that sugar is a solid. Then we looked at something we have a lot around the house now, which is vegetable puree. This looked to her like liquid, but I then explained that it is a little of both. It has a lot of tiny solid pieces in liquid.
Later we will look at liquids, gases and transformations between these states of substance.
If you try this at home and your child asks questions, or if you have any questions, please let me know in the comment section so I can further develop these instructions. Also, please remember like and share if you find this useful.
Copyright text and images: Satu Korhonen. You are free to try these experiments out, use them in your teaching. But instead of copying the text or images, link back to this page.