Lesson: State 2: LIquids

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Lesson Objective

Students will describe the properties of three mystery liquids. They will use those properties to predict what the liquids could be.

Lesson Plan


  • Wax Paper
  • Paper Plates
  • Water (Red Food Coloring)
  • Mouth Wash (Green)
  • Corn Syrup or Dish Soap (Blue Food Coloring)
  • Eye Dropper
  • toothpicks
  • * Store the 3 liquids in secure containers with lids
  • * You can use other liquids for the different colors. The liquids should vary with their properties (taste, “thickness”, odor, etc.) just be sure to specify taste/not taste on for the worksheet.
    Some to try: honey, rubbing alcohol, vinegar, corn syrup



  • Remind students that Matter is anything that takes up space.
  • There are 3 types of matter: Solids, Liquids, and Gases
  • Ask students if a Rock is a liquid.
  • Is air? Is a table? Is a Chair?
  • Define:
  • The important things for your to know about liquids are:
  • A liquid takes the shape of whatever container you put it in. If you put it in a glass, it will be that shape, if you put it in a liquid in a bowl, it will be a bowl shape.
  • Liquids can be poured or spilt.
  • Under a microscope, a liquid’s particles flow loosely around their container. That is why they pour, can move around easily, and your hand can pass through them.
  • Have students “Turn and Teach” their partners the 3 important things to know about liquids.
  • Call on 3 students to repeat back the properties of liquids.
  • Tell the students: Yesterday you described the properties of solids. Today you will describe the properties of 3 mystery liquids and you will try to predict what the liquids are.



  • Show students the 3 liquid containers.
  • Tell there are 3 mystery liquids in these containers. Each of you will get a red drop, a blue drop, and a green drop. With your drops you will record the properties and observations of the different liquids.
  • Ask: What are some properties/observations you could make?
  •  Color, smell, taste, shape, what happens when you drag it?
  • Show the student response sheet. Explain the directions (write observations, properties, draw what the drop looks like, and predict what liquid the drop is)
  • Hand out the response sheets, wax paper, plates, and toothpicks.
  • After students have set up the wax paper on top of the plates, go around to each table and place a drop of the red liquid on each plate. Allow students to record observations/drawings/predictions.
  • Repeat with the green and blue drops.
  • Optional: Allow students to mix 2 drops and record additional observations on the bottom of the sheet.
  • After all 3 drop observations are complete, have the students bring their response sheets to the carpet to discuss predictions and results.



  • Hold up the red liquid. Ask for predictions and have students explain why they think it could be that.
  • If there are no correct guesses, reveal the liquid.
  • Repeat for blue and green liquids.
  • Tell the students that the next lesson will explore the properties of another mystery object.



This was one of the first lessons that I ever taught to a small group, when I was in an education course in my Master's program. The engagement, scientific thinking, and discussion were amazing to me. I have done this lesson for 1st-4th graders with variation in concepts and complexity. In the beginning the students only made observations about the 3 different types of liquid. But, even in that first lesson I had students begging me to see what happens if we mix the liquids. That interest in "what happens if" is the exact type of inquiry that we want to instill in our young scientists. On a side note, older grades (through high school) can explore the concept of viscosity of these different liquids. At the elementary level students are getting a very rudimentary understanding of thickness of "thinness" of the liquids, but when they explore viscosity later on, it is my hope I've now given them some background about the properties and behaviors of liquids.

Lesson Resources



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