Rock Cycle - Chemistry (K)
Pre Lab 

  • Classifying matter into five groups.
  • Distinguishing four different types of matter.
  • gas
  • liquid
  • plasma
  • solid
  • plasma ball
  • glass of water
  • balloons

Students identify different states of matter in the classroom.

Water can be seen as 3 states of matter: gas, liquid, and solid


Chemistry is an underlying component of most branches of the sciences. All substances can be described by their chemical behaviors and chemical compositions. All "things" are classified as matter. Everything on Earth can be easily described in terms of one of four forms of matter: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Students are familiar with the three common forms of matter: solids, liquids, and gases. A solid is an object that has a form. Its form will not change if the solid is picked up, put in a container, or touched. A liquid is a substance which flows, spreads out, or will fall from your hand if you try to hold it. Liquids take the shape of the containers in which they are placed. A gas is a substance that moves around and fills the container that encloses it. Gases will continue to try and fill up an area even if that area is the size of a room. Outside, gases will expand indefinitely. Plasma is a fully ionized gas containing roughly equal numbers of positively and negatively charged atoms. Plasma is actually the most common form of matter in the Universe, but most children are not familiar with it. The best way to describe plasma for a kindergarten student is to demonstrate plasma by showing the students a "plasma" ball, which generates a plasma. Remember not to confuse blood plasma with this plasma. Blood plasma and plasma the state of matter are two very different things.

There is also a fifth state of matter called the Bose-Einstein Condensate. This form of matter only is observed under extremely cold conditions not found naturally on Earth. Scientists are currently learning more and more about how matter can be described in other conditions that are not normal on the Earth’s surface. The Bose-Einstein Condensate is difficult to explain at this time. We suggest that you may mention that other states of matter exist, and that the students will learn more about them in higher grades.

  1. Explain to the students that there are four states of matter; solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Tell them that a fifth state of matter, Bose-Einstein Condensate, also exists, but that they will not study it in kindergarten.
  2. Ask your students to find some objects in the class that are solids. Hopefully they will pick up a book or pencil. Ask them why these objects are solids. The objects are solids because their shapes do not change when touched. Point out other solids in the room.
  3. Make sure you have a glass of water on your desk when you ask students to find a liquid. If the students are having a difficult time finding a liquid, hold the glass of water and either swirl the water so the students can see that it flows or pour some on your hand to show some properties of liquids. Discuss other examples of liquids like milk or honey.
  4. Next, have the children place their hands in front of their faces and blow onto their hands so that they feel air. Ask them if this is matter. They may not fully realize that air is matter, because it is a gas that takes up space. Air is a mixture of many types of gases and although air cannot be seen (unless it is very cold), it is everywhere on the Earth’s surface. Discuss other examples of gasses like helium in a balloon, steam from a tea kettle, or any other familiar examples.
  5. Explain that plasma is not easy to see, but it is all around us. Tell them that you have a special device called a plasma ball, which you will use to demonstrate plasma.

    Turn on the ball and invite the children to look at the plasma discharging on the sides of the glass. Touch the glass and ask the students to tell you what they see. They will probable say "a lightening bolt". Explain that the plasma is attracted to your finger. It is best not to allow the students to all touch the plasma ball as this can lead to small shocks.

    If you don’t have a plasma ball, show students a flourescent bulb. The light it generates is actually a glowing plasma.

  6. Give each child a balloon and ask them to think of different types of substances that can be used to fill up the balloon. If you have a helium balloon, you may want to bring it in to show the children that there are different types of gases, some lighter than others. You can also put water into a balloon, which would be the liquid state of matter. You may want the student to blow up the balloon several times, so that water will form at the tip of the balloon.
  7. Have the students color the balloon picture in the workbook. Have them determine how many states of matter are in the picture. The balloons in this coloring exercise illustrate two of the four states of matter (solid and gas). The actual balloon is a solid and the air inside is a gas. Some students may say plasma is also present even though we can't see it.

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