The Material World class 1: Solids, liquids and gases (tee hee)

We had a small class today due to my little girl having a cold and a cough. Two of my sons plus another boy. The three children (aged 5, 6 and 9) all worked together to find out about solids, liquids and gases. (I have emailed my notes to everyone attending this term so that you can try these activities at home if you want.)

We started off with a scavenger hunt/sorting activity where they had to find objects to put in two boxes labelled SOLID and LIQUID. (I clarified that the liquids had to be in containers.) Then we discussed what we could put in the box labelled GASES. We could blow in it, or wave our hands into it, or blow up a balloon and put the balloon in it, or we could fart into it! One child mentioned pressurised canisters of gas, which was good as it linked in to a later activity looking at whether solids, liquids or gases could be pressurised.

We used some glass beakers and talked about how solids, liquids and gases behave differently in containers.


I asked them how they would change each item to make it change into a different state. They worked out that you needed to either heat them or cool them down (although we didn’t dwell much on the concepts at this point).

I used a BBC Bitesize activity to reinforce ideas about the three different states of matter.

We then went outside and the children played the Solid, Liquid, Gas game, either standing close together with hands held, or moving around at different speeds depending on what word I called out. This was very popular. I introduced some terms linked to change of state (e.g. melting, freezing, evaporation and sublimation).

Back inside, I introduced another BBC Bitesize activity about changing state. I think this was the children’s favourite activity. They are shown an ice cube in a sealed container and have to heat it up by pressing a button. If they heat up the gas too much, the container explodes.

BBC - KS2 Bitesize Science - Changing state   Play

This was plenty for the younger group. Afterwards, I worked a little more with my older son. We explored how volatile liquids smell, and the cooling effect when we put a little on our skin. I then challenged him to find out about how a refrigerator works.

At the start of the class, my sons were getting very distracted and talking at the same time as me. This happened to a certain extent with children in last term’s classes. There is plenty of time for discussion in my classes, but there are always points when I want the children to listen to me. Background chatter can make it hard for other children to concentrate, and it is not pleasant for me if I feel that I am being ignored. I thought about this over the holidays and decided to appeal to children’s own experience of people being attentive or distracted when they are talking. I spoke very seriously about the importance of listening to what other people say and showing them respect. After this, they all behaved well.

I felt it was a successful class. Having so few children meant I could really concentrate on each of them.

I love meeting homeschooled children through these classes, helping them in their learning journey and sharing my knowledge and experience with them. I am hoping to find a way to keep running these classes while acknowledging that my primary responsibility is to care for the children in my own family,especially the younger ones. We are still so small but I hope to find another person to cover for me when my children are ill. If they want to work more we might be able to expand more towards high school level.

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