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Children learn about properties of materials as they walk through a fabric store, help in the kitchen, or dig in the garden. Directed explorations in the classroom build on these early experiences. In the inquiry-based activity described here, students prepare to learn about wet and dry ingredients (liquids and solids) and how they mix together by exploring small amounts of substances and how to follow a procedure—something scientists do as they try to duplicate the results of an initial experiment.
A selection from Science and Children—January 2008
This article describes ways that students can explore liquids and solids without making too big of a mess. Teachers can give the students small amounts of liquids and solids to explore with before doing an experiment. This way they are familiar with the substances before doing the experiment. Students can also help with clean up which saves the teacher time. This article has a lot of useful information packed into one page!!
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)
Who doesn’t like to play with a messy solution? Young children create a cornstarch mix and learn to describe the properties of this non-Newtonian liquid. There are many skills students learn in this fun activity. They measure, compare liquids and make lots of observations.
Adah (San Antonio, TX)
This article on exploring the properties of a mixture with young children is short and to the point. It talks about different ways you can engage your students in this topic. This article gives teachers ideas on how to get the children curious about this topic by doing things such as allowing unstructured play with aluminum foil, clay, or cutting put pieces of paper. It also discusses allowing children to play for long amounts of time with common kitchen ingredients such as flour, baking soda, salt, and oil. While the students are playing you can ask them open ended questions about what they are doing and about the substances they are playing with. You can record their answers for assessment. At the end of this article it gives you a full out lesson plan for cornstarch and water. This is a great activity for children because it is so different than doing an activity where you mix a solid and a liquid (ex. ice cube and water). With this activity you mix the cornstarch and the water together and it creates a solid like substance when you touch it, however when you pick it up in your hand it drips out and runs as a liquid. It is a very strange feeling that kids really love playing with and exploring. This lesson plan comes with an objective, materials, and a full procedure for the activity which can easily be used right away in any classroom. I liked this article and it helped me better understand how small children can experience liquids and solids and gave me a ready to use lesson plan.
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