Hands on Science: Matter

Hands on Science: Matter

"Mum, why is this fizzing?", "Dad, why is this potato changing colour?". Our children are just buzzing with questions. As parents, we can value their questions by helping them explore their curiosity. 

Yusuf just turned 5 and he has a passion for science. He's often seen in the kitchen observing chemical reactions! So we started exploring chemistry...

Lesson 1: What is matter?

Everything Allah created that can be touched physically is made up of matter.

Matter is made up of extremely tiny particles called atoms and molecules.

My 7yo illustrated this with lego. The red brick is an atom which everything is made up of. There are 118 different types of atoms.  The coloured bricks represent elements. An element is a pure substance made from one type of atom, such as, oxygen, gold and iron. Once atoms combine they form molecules. With these lego,  Yaseen combined 2 hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom to create a water molecule. Alhamdulillah, this was his first intro lesson into elements.

With my 5yo, we discussed atoms as being tiny things that Allah has created. All these tiny things come together to form objects. All objects are made from the atoms we call matter. We also discussed the ayah on an atom (scroll to the end).



Lesson 2: Why does matter vary in shapes and sizes?

Matter exists in 3 different forms on earth: solid, liquid and gas. These are called states of matter.  The particles are arranged and move differently in each state of matter.

Solid: The particles are packed together tightly. Solids keep their shape.

Example: wood, marbles, lego and cups.

Liquid: The particles are loosely packed and can move around each other. A liquid can be poured and will take the shape of its container.

Example: water, paint, honey and oil.

Gas: The particles are spread out and move around freely. A gas will fill any container and if it's not in a container it escapes into the air.

Example: bubbles and air.

The boys demonstrated how the particles are formed in each of these states using play dough.

They also ran around the room collecting items to fit into these 3 categories.


Lesson 3: Changing states

When matter changes from one form into another its called a phase change. This happens when energy is applied or removed. These changes are called:

- Solid to a liquid = melting

- Liquid to a solid = freezing or solidification

- Liquid to a gas = boiling or evaporation

- Gas to a liquid = condensation


Experiment 1: Water cycle in a bag

For this lesson we conducted a "water cycle in a bag" experiment to observe the different changes in states (and it's a great way to observe the water cycle).  In our experiment, the heat from the sun turned the ice cubes (solid) into water (liquid). When this occurred the arrangement of particles changed to become loosely packed. To change the water (liquid) into ice cubes (solid), energy must be removed.

1. Solidification Phase - The boys poured coloured water in an ice cube tray and placed it in the freezer. The following day, they placed the ice cubes in a zip lock bag and taped it to a window where there was the most sunlight. They used their observation log to begin drawing.

2. Melting Phase - An hour later, they came back to see the melting phase. I asked the boys to explain how the particles were arranged.

3. Evaporation Phase - More than an hour later the ice had completely melted and the boys observed a slightly cloudy bag.

4. Condensation phase - Finally, they they got to witness water droplets.

Experiment 2: Bag on a jar

The original experiment is called balloon on a bottle, however I had neither a balloon or plastic bottle lying around, just a jar and bag! The  boys had some fun mixing a solid (bi carb soda) with a liquid (vinegar) to create gas (C02)! When the base - bi carb soda - is mixed with an acid - vinegar - a chemical reaction occurs creating a gas to lift the bag.

Experiment 3:

This time we experimented with boiling ice cubes to see changes.


Lesson 4: Properties of matter

Properties are used to describe the object which can be observed, measured, and tested. There are many properties of matter, however we focused on: colour, elasticity, flexibility, texture, magnetism, density, solubility and conductivity. 

The boys and I went through each object observing and testing it's properties before recording it on our checklist. Some of these words were new to my children, so we discussed them as they came about.


Towards the end of this lesson I asked them to put their 'imagination caps' on. They were engineers who had to build a bridge for cars and trucks to use everyday. They had to work together to identify the type of material they'd use to build the bridge and explain the reason why this material was the best option. This would make a great STEAM activity!

Lesson 5: Reversible vs Irreversible changes

If an ice block melts, it can be frozen again to make the same ice block. This change is temporary and it can be reversed so it's called a reversible change. If the matter can not be reversed, such as making a scrambled egg raw again, this change is permanent so it's an irreversible change. 

We explored examples of changes with a venn diagram. This lesson can easily be conducted in the kitchen with mini experiments, like baking a cake, boiling an egg, melting a chocolate block etc.

To consolidate what they've learnt after every lesson, we play several question and answer games.

Game 1: They need to reach the finish line by answering the questions correctly. Every wrong answer takes them a step back.

Game 2: They choose a location in the room further away from each other. With every correct answer they take a step forward to tag their opponent. Last one standing wins.

Sometimes, it'll come up as a normal conversation - usually in the kitchen or garden!


Islam and Atoms...

فَمَن يَعۡمَلۡ مِثۡقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيۡرٗا يَرَهُۥ
In the past we've discussed Surat Az Zalzalah, ayah 7, "so whoever does an atoms weight of good will see it."

To demonstrate what an atom is to my children, I asked them to smash an egg until they can no longer break it further. I asked Yaseen to pick up the smallest part and told him an atom is much smaller than this and can only be seen with a powerful microscope.  He was surprised that Allah will reward us for something so small! No matter how small our deeds are, as long as our intention is for Allah's sake, He will reward us in sha Allah.

So what exactly is an atom's weight of good? The boys brainstormed small deeds they thought were insignificant, like giving an ant a crumb or putting dishes in the sink!  But no act is ever too small in the sight of Allah, even if it's an atom's weight! The kids now realise that it's these small deeds done purely for Allah's sake that may earn us our ticket to Jannah, in sha Allah.


I really hope you draw inspiration from this blog and have a blast at creating a mess at home! You can view our Instagram stories for the experiments and download the observation sheets below. Alhamdulillah, now we're ready to learn about mixtures, solutions.

I’d love to see how you engage your children with our resources. Please tag us if you choose to share your work in your social media posts. You’ll find us on Instagram (@brb_raisingkids) and Facebook (@brbraisingkids).

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