Big Idea 8: Properties of Matter

A. All objects and substances in the world are made of matter. Matter has two fundamental properties: matter takes up space and matter has mass.

B. Objects and substances can be classified by their physical and chemical properties. Mass is the amount of matter (or "stuff") in an object. Weight, on the other hand, is the measure of force of attraction (gravitational force) between an object and Earth.

The concepts of mass and weight are complicated and potentially confusing to elementary students. By grades 6-8, students are expected to understand the distinction between mass and weight, and use them appropriately.

Clarification for grades K-2: The use of the more familiar term ‘weight’ instead of the term “mass” is recommended for grades K-2.

Clarification for grades 3-5: In grade 3, introduce the term mass as compared to the term weight. In grade 4, investigate the concept of weight versus mass of objects. In grade 5, discuss why mass (not weight) is used to compare properties of solids, liquids and gases.

General Information
Number: SC.4.P.8
Title: Properties of Matter
Type: Big Idea
Subject: Science
Grade: 4
Body of Knowledge: Physical Science

Related Benchmarks

This cluster includes the following benchmarks.

Related Access Points

This cluster includes the following access points.

Independent

SC.4.P.8.In.1
Compare objects and materials based on physical properties, such as size, shape, color, texture, weight, hardness, odor, taste, and temperature.
SC.4.P.8.In.2
Identify properties and uses of water in solid and liquid states.
SC.4.P.8.In.3
Identify that a whole object weighs the same as all of its parts together.
SC.4.P.8.In.4
Identify objects a magnet will attract.

Supported

SC.4.P.8.Su.1
Sort objects by physical properties, such as size, shape, color, texture, weight (heavy or light), and temperature (hot or cold).
SC.4.P.8.Su.2
Identify uses of water in solid or liquid states.
SC.4.P.8.Su.3
Recognize that the parts of an object can be put together to make a whole.
SC.4.P.8.Su.4
Demonstrate that magnets can attract other magnets.

Participatory

SC.4.P.8.Pa.1
Match objects with similar observable properties, such as size, shape, color, or texture.
SC.4.P.8.Pa.2
Identify ice as a solid.
SC.4.P.8.Pa.3
Recognize that some objects have parts.
SC.4.P.8.Pa.4
Recognize that objects can stick together.

Related Resources

Vetted resources educators can use to teach the concepts and skills in this topic.

Formative Assessments

Packing Materials:

Students will test the solubility of different items used in packing. Based on their observations, the student will explain which of the materials would be least harmful to the environment. The task assesses students' ability to make simple observations and make generalized inferences from their observations

Type: Formative Assessment

Testing Food:

Students determine the relative amounts of oils in food. They then apply their understanding to an additional situation. The task assesses students' abilities to make simple observations, make generalized inferences from their observations, and apply their understanding to an additional situation.

Type: Formative Assessment

Lesson Plans

The Playground Project:

Students will enjoy designing their "dream" playground while applying math and science skills in this engineering design challenge lesson. Students will find the area and perimeter of their playground designs. They will also use a budget sheet to make decisions about what to include in their playground, considering the physical properties of the materials they "purchase."

Type: Lesson Plan

Paddleboard Conundrum MEA:

This activity allows students to compare and contrast paddleboards based on their physical features such as length, width, weight, etc. Students will determine which board is best for beginning paddlers using deductive reasoning and key details from the reading passages.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

Best Lollipop Ever:

In this lesson, the students will learn about comparing the durability of certain types of candy (lollipops). Through various readings, discussions, and activities, the students will determine which Candy (lollipops) is the best in several categories. They will do this by analyzing a set of data with a set of criteria given to them by a client.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

Best Stuffy Ever:

In this lesson, the students will learn about comparing the volume and the capacity of an item such as a bigger than normal stuffy. Each stuffy will be stuffed with the same type of object (tennis balls) to see which holds more. Through various readings, discussions, and activities, the students will determine which stuffy can hold the most inside. They will do this by analyzing a set of data with a set of criteria given to them by a client.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

Physical Properties of Matter:

Students will observe different materials based on their physical properties.

Type: Lesson Plan

Magnetism and Magnetic Properties:

Students will identify properties of magnetism and begin to develop understanding of their practical applications. Students will also begin to develop understanding of the essential nature of Earth's magnetic fields.

Type: Lesson Plan

Properties of Matter: Mass, Shape, and Volume:

Using the main idea and details graphic organizer, students will be able to distinguish between information given on the properties of matter – mass, shape, and volume. Students will also demonstrate their understanding of science concepts learned from reading an informational text passage on the properties of matter.

Type: Lesson Plan

Magnets and Magnetism:

This lesson demonstrates how students can apply the process of identifying main idea and supporting details to show how the force of magnetism works and how it can be useful in everyday life. The lesson provides an opportunity for students to interact with informational text and participate in a jigsaw learning activity.

Type: Lesson Plan

Rocks, Rocks, Everywhere:

The students will be able to sort rocks based upon color, hardness, texture, layering and particle size.

Type: Lesson Plan

Magnets 2: How Strong is Your Magnet:

This lesson is to experimentally measure the strength of a magnet and to graph how the strength changes as the distance from the magnet increases, and to also observe how a barrier (masking tape), built between the magnet and an iron object, will affect the strength of the magnet.

Type: Lesson Plan

Observing a Physical Change:

In this lesson, students are shown the difference between physical and chemical changes by dissolving and crushing seltzer tablets. Students learn to recognize that physical changes involved changes in size, shape, or texture, while chemical changes involve the formation of a new substance.

Type: Lesson Plan

Exploring Water:

In this lesson, students record their observations of water in all of its phases.

Type: Lesson Plan

Exploring Magnets:

In this lesson, students observe and record their observations of magnets attracting and repelling each other and other objects..

Type: Lesson Plan

Does Soap Float?:

In this science inquiry lesson, students will form hypotheses and carry out an investigation in order to answer a central question: Does soap float?

Type: Lesson Plan

Magnetic Personality:

Through teacher demonstrations and lab type investigations done in rotations, students will explore magnets, magnetic materials, magnetic fields, and electromagnets.

Type: Lesson Plan

Physical Properties of Matter:

Students will participate in a hands-on lab activity in which they will measure and compare apples based on many of their physical properties.

Type: Lesson Plan

Properties of Matter: Color, Hardness, Texture, Odor, and Taste:

In this lesson, students will use a compare and contrast chart (graphic organizer) to compare and contrast the different properties of matter – color, hardness, texture, odor, and taste. Students will also demonstrate the science concepts learned from reading informational text passages on the properties of matter.

Type: Lesson Plan

Original Student Tutorials

Maya's Tackle Box: Tackling Physical Properties:

Explore how objects can be compared and sorted based on their physical properties in this fishing-themed, interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Brick Masters- The Law of Conservation of Mass:

Explore the Law of Conservation of Mass using your favorite building blocks in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Magnetic Levitation:

Physics is a weighty subject, but this discussion of magnets and illusion brings a little levity.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Presentation/Slideshow

Water Phases:

Water is ubiquitous on Earth, but is quite a unique substance because it easily exists in all three of its forms (liquid, ice, vapor) on Earth, unlike the other substances that can exist in these three phases. This slideshow depicts water in each of its three phases.

Type: Presentation/Slideshow

Problem-Solving Task

Rising Waters:

Students correlate the weight and water displacement of various balls. They then apply their understanding to an additional situation. The task assesses students' abilities to make simple observations, collect data, make generalized inferences from their observations, and apply their understanding to an additional situation.

This task is designed to take students approximately 45 minutes to complete.

Type: Problem-Solving Task

Teaching Ideas

Investigating Magnetism: What are Magnets and Why Do They Attract or Repel?:

This activity is a classroom lab in which students observe and investigate how magnets interact with each other and the objects around them.

Type: Teaching Idea

Exploring Magnetism: Investigating the forces of magnets:

This activity is a classroom and lab investigation of magnetism. Students gather results of experiments involving the forces of magnets. They use this data to develop their own experiments to test properties of magnets.

Type: Teaching Idea

Investigating Magnetic Force Fields:

In this classroom activity, the students will investigate the magnetic pull of a bar magnet at varying distances with the use of paper clips. Students will hypothesize, conduct the experiment, collect the data, and draw conclusions that support their data. Each student will record the experiment and their findings in their science journals. As a class, students will compare each groups' data and their interpretation of the results.

Type: Teaching Idea

Sponge Animals: Growing Insects:

In this activity, students will investigate how water temperature affects the rate of growth for a toy sponge animal.

Type: Teaching Idea

Unit/Lesson Sequences

Measuring Mass:

In this unit, students will first do research and study the Law of Conservation of Mass and learn how to form a hypothesis. After they learn how to form a hypothesis, they will use balance beams to measure clay and crayons.

Type: Unit/Lesson Sequence

Chemical Change Investigations | Inquiry in Action:

In this series of 10 investigations, students gain experience with the evidence of chemical change - production of a gas, change in temperature, color change, and formation of a precipitate. Students begin by observing that similar-looking powders can be differentiated by the way they react chemically with certain test liquids. Students then use their chemical tests and observations to identify an unknown powder and, in a follow-up activity, to identify the active ingredients in baking powder. Students continue to explore chemical change by using a thermometer to observe that temperature either increases or decreases during chemical reactions. Then they control these reactions by adjusting the amount of reactants. In another set of activities, students use the color changes of red cabbage indicator to classify substances as acids or bases, neutralize solutions, and compare the relative acidity of two different solutions. Students conclude the investigation by comparing a precipitate to one of the reactants that formed it. Students see that a new substance was created during the chemical reaction. Information and questions about photosynthesis and cellular respiration are included as examples of chemical changes on pages 316-318 of this resource.

Type: Unit/Lesson Sequence

Physical properties and physical change in liquids | Inquiry in Action:

In this investigation, students compare the way four known liquids behave, and then apply these observations to identify an unknown liquid. Students then compare how each liquid combines with water and use this property to identify unknown liquids. The activities throughout the investigation emphasize the characteristic properties of liquids, identifying and controlling variables, making observations, and analyzing results to answer a question.

Type: Unit/Lesson Sequence

Physical Properties & Physical Change in Solids | Curious Crystals | Inquiry in Action:

In this investigation, students will carefully look at four known household crystals. After observing and describing the crystals, students will be given an unknown crystal, which is chemically the same as one of the four known crystals but looks different. When students realize that they cannot identify this crystal by its appearance alone, they will suggest other tests and ways to compare the crystals to eventually identify the unknown crystal. The other activities in this investigation are examples of tests students can conduct on the crystals. After a series of these tests, students will gather enough evidence to identify the unknown crystal.

Type: Unit/Lesson Sequence

Student Resources

Vetted resources students can use to learn the concepts and skills in this topic.

Original Student Tutorials

Maya's Tackle Box: Tackling Physical Properties:

Explore how objects can be compared and sorted based on their physical properties in this fishing-themed, interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Brick Masters- The Law of Conservation of Mass:

Explore the Law of Conservation of Mass using your favorite building blocks in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Magnetic Levitation:

Physics is a weighty subject, but this discussion of magnets and illusion brings a little levity.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Parent Resources

Vetted resources caregivers can use to help students learn the concepts and skills in this topic.

Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Magnetic Levitation:

Physics is a weighty subject, but this discussion of magnets and illusion brings a little levity.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast