The United States of Matter Staff
Lesson Plan Team

Observe various substances to recognize different characteristics of solids, liquids, and gases.  The students will work in pairs.  

Grade Level: 6th Grade

Subject: Science

Length of Time: About 45 Minutes

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Objectives & Outcomes

Using several common substance the students will be able to use observation skills to identify and distinguish the characteristics of and differences between solids, liquids, and gases.

Materials Needed

3-5 samples each of a solid, liquid, and gas for students to work with. (The total should be enough for each pair of students have.)

Prepare ahead of time:  Samples of solids could be block of wood, fabric, metal, glass, plastic, etc.  Liquids could include coffee, juice, milk, honey, etc.  Gas could include soda (carbonation), moth balls, empty container to represent air, etc.

A chart/worksheet for students to write specific observations, while using their five senses, about the items.

Water (add food coloring), ice cubes (use Kool-Aid cubes if possible), method to show water (add something to the water to create an odor) boiling or condensation on the outside of a cold glass, apple sauce or jelly.


Opening to Lesson

  • Display the bottle of water, ice cubes, and boiling water (or show condensation) for students to observe.
  • Once all are seated or gathered, ask students to share their observations.
  • Write all answers on the board.  List each observation under item represented.
  • Encourage students to use their five senses.  

Body of Lesson



  • After 5 – 7 minutes, discuss the differences and what makes them a solid, liquid, or gas
  • Pair the students.
  • Introduce students to the items they will be observing.
  • Distribute prepared worksheets to each student for recording observations.
  • Stress the importance of making clear specific observations. (Words like big, small, colorful, etc. are not acceptable.)
  • Show examples of the good observations listed on the board from the opening activity


Guided Practice

  • Distribute the items for observation, one for each pair of students.  
  • Allow about 2 minutes for each item.
  • Rotate the items until each pair of students have had a chance to observe and identify
  • Allow students to share their observations and responses.
  • Be sure each item is clearly identified as a solid, liquid, or gas.
  • If time, ask students which of the items could be changed into a different state; solids used in liquids (Kool-Aid, pulp in OJ), and other questions for reflection.

Independent Practice


  • Worksheet listing 100 random items to be identified as a solid, liquid, or gas.
  • Homework assignment:  Students will list solids, liquids, gases from their home, identifying 5-10 of each.
  • Use completed work to evaluate students’ knowledge of the lesson




  • Display a jar of applesauce and/or jelly.  As students if it is a solid, liquid, or gas.
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Assessment & Evaluation

Students will use a worksheet with a list of 100 items which they will identify as a solid, liquid, or gas.  Homework assignment to list solids, liquids, gas at home.

Modification & Differentiation

Students work alone walking around the room to observe items on display.  Go outdoors and pick items randomly to be observed.  Teacher displays each item, one at a time, for observation and identification while students remain in seats.

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