The image is of the movement of atoms in a solid

States of Matter Introduction: Simple Hands-On Activity

This simple activity is a nice introduction or warm-up to the topic of states of matter.

In this activity, students differentiate between a gas, a solid, and a liquid. The activity serves as a quick assessment of which students have some background knowledge about the states of matter.


For each student:


For each student prepare the following:

  1. Fill up 1 small water bottle about 1/2 way with water 
  2. Cap a 2nd small water bottle shut without adding anything to it. 
  3. Place the marble in a 3rd small water bottle.


Gather the materials for this lab and place each of the states of matter in a bowl for each student as the class enters the room.

  1. Students will enter the room and discover the bowl with the 3 water bottles.
  2. Explain to the class that they will be learning about a new topic: the states of matter.
  3. Ask students to shake the bottles and to think about what state of matter describes the substances inside of each bottle.  
  4. Have students place the states of matter (the bottles) on the table in from of them from solid on the left, to liquid (in the middle) to gas (on the right).
  5. In this manner, you will be able to assess which students already have prior knowledge of this content. 
  6. The lesson should proceed with a discussion of the states of matter using the textbook or the Three basic states of matter activity.

The APH product Basic Science Tactile Graphics includes tactile graphics of the states of matter.  


When I did this activity originally, the solid material (a marble or washer) was not in a bottle. 

For students with hearing impairment, the water should be poured out of the bottle and the marble should be also taken out of the bottle.  

NGSS Standards

2nd Grade 

PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
Different kinds of matter exist and many of them can be either solid or liquid, depending on temperature. Matter can be described and classified by its observable properties. (2-PS1-1)

By Laura Hospitál

Collage of states of matter

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