Understanding the various states of matter is one of the key concepts kids need for exploring chemistry and physics. These states of matter activities help them learn the physical changes that take place as matter converts from solid to liquid to gas. They’ll enjoy the hands-on aspects as they get to see science in action!
1. Start with an anchor chart
An anchor chart like this gives students something to reference as they learn the concepts and complete states of matter activities.
Learn more: Terra Palmer/Pinterest
2. Read books about the states of matter
Read a book or two to introduce younger learners to the concepts of solids, liquids, and gases. Here are a few of our favorites to try.
- What Is The World Made Of? (Weidner Zoehfeld/Meisel)
- What’s the Matter in Mr. Whisker’s Room? (Elsohn Ross/Meisel)
- Matter: Physical Science for Kids (Diehn/Li)
- Bartholomew and the Oobleck (Seuss)
3. Sort and match states of matter
Grab the free printable cards at the link, or cut pictures out of magazines. Then have kids sort them by states of matter.
4. Discover the states of matter with water
All you need is water for one of the easiest states of matter activities. Start with ice cubes, melt them down to water, then bring them to boiling to watch steam form.
Learn more: Gift of Curiosity/States of Matter using Water
5. Color and learn about states of matter
Kids who love to color will enjoy these free printable worksheets. As they color in the pictures, talk about the differences between the states of matter.
Learn more: This Reading Mama
6. Use cereal to represent atoms
Use Cheerios (or M&Ms, or raisins… you get the idea) to diagram the action of atoms in the various states of matter. Snack on the “atoms” when you’re done!
Learn more: Mrs. Thompsons’s Treasures
7. Drink root beer floats
Speaking of delicious science, root beer floats are one of our favorite states of matter activities! We guarantee this one will be a hit.
Learn more: Learning Lab Resources
8. Churn ice cream in a bag
If you’re really feeling ambitious, make your own ice cream for the floats! It’s a fun way to explore the change from liquid to solid too.
Learn more: Around the Kampfire
9. Harvest water from fog
Simulate fog by spraying water from a bottle. Use a piece of nylon stocking to catch the fog and turn it back into water.
Learn more: Science Buddies/Fog Catcher
10. Explore liquids and solids with crayons
This experiment explores the change from solid to liquid and back again using heat. And at the end, kids have “new” crayons to color with!
Learn more: Life Over Cs
11. Make a cup of hot chocolate
Ready for another edible experiment? Hot chocolate is a cool way to explore the states of matter. (Don’t forget the solids: marshmallows!)
Learn more: Cool Progeny
12. Try cotton swab painting
Use cotton swabs dipped in paint to make illustrations of how atoms move in solids, liquids, and gases.
Learn more: Inspire Me ASAP
13. Make a batch of butter
This experiment not only explores solids and liquids, but also the process known as emulsion. You get double the science, and a yummy treat!
Learn more: Playdough to Plato
14. Fill balloons with solids, liquids, and gases
Fill balloons with water (liquid and frozen) and air, then talk about the properties of each. This is a good way to prove that gas is there, even though you can’t always see it.
Learn more: Fit Kids Clubhouse
15. Explore the properties of Oobleck
Just when kids think they understand the states of matter, along comes a non-Newtonion fluid like oobleck to confuse matters! This is one science demo that never fails to amaze.
Learn more: Science Buddies/Oobleck
Like these state of matter activities? Try these 28 Edible Science Experiments You’ll Actually Want To Eat.