Lesson: Oobleck: What's the Matter

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Lesson Objective

Given the unknown state that Oobleck is in, students will make observations to draw a conclusion of which state of matter it is.

Lesson Plan


  • Prepare Oobleck and separate into ziploc bags. (1 part water : 1 part cornstarch)
  • Mix cornstarch and water. Use green food coloring for effect.
  • Separate oobleck into bags (1 for each group/table)
  • Check out: Bartholomew and the Oobleck   By: Dr. Seuss



  • What is matter?
  • What are the different types of matter?


  • Read Bartholomew and the Oobleck
  • (Guiding Questions during the beginning of the story.)
  • What state of matter is rain?
  • How do you know?
  • What state of matter is fog?
  • How would you characterize gases? 
  • What state of matter is snow?
  • Can you think of other examples of solids?



  • I brought some Oobleck with me today. At your tables you’ll be able to explore it and make observations about it, but let’s go over the expectations.
  • At the tables there is a Ziploc bag of Oobleck. With your eyes only, I want you to talk at your tables about what state of matter you think it is. Why? Write observations.
  • Pick up the bag, by the top. What do you notice about the Oobleck when you pick it up? Set it back down in the middle. Do NOT grab for the bag. If you notice someone else reaching for it, let them have it, and everyone will get a turn. Record on your observation sheet.
  • When each person has written these first 2 observations down, cut a hole in the bag and give each student a small handful of oobleck to explore.
  • Students should write down 3 ways that oobleck is like a solid and 3 ways oobleck is like a liquid.
  • After observation time, let students wash hands and come to the carpet with their observations.



  • Chart: 2 column: Solid | Liquid
  • Ask: How many think oobleck is a solid? How many think oobleck is a liquid?
  • Tell: Oobleck is sometimes a solid and sometimes a liquid.
  • Chart: Have students share how oobleck is alike a solid and how oobleck is like a liquid.
  • Tell: Tomorrow we will be exploring the 3rdstate of matter: Gas



In this lesson, students explore a substance that behaves both like a solid and a liquid. I love any lesson where I can use literature to tie in a concept in a different content area. The weather in the book can signify the 3 different states of matter (rain, fog, snow) and oobleck is this sticky substance in between. This is also a great connection to college students using the same "oobleck" for fun and experimentation!   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUYEN9_84ug

and Mythbusters:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wiYtoG9kZE&feature=related

Lesson Resources

Science Matter Oobleck StudentResponse   Project / Lab
Mythbusters: Walking on Water
USU Engineering Week


Cynthia Clark Posted 3 years ago:

I'll be introducing this to my elementary science methods class.

Paul Hobson Posted 4 years ago:
Bonnie- Thanks for the update! You sent me on a hunt for information on this! I think I'll go ahead and teach it to them as a colloid :) Grasping invisible things tends to be a little hard for my 8 year olds. http://chemwiki.ucdavis.edu/Physical_Chemistry/Physical_Properties_of_Matter/Solutions/Colloid I also came across some discussion on visibility of gases: http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=105106 Looks like MOST gases are invisible, a couple are visibile, and pressure, temperature, or electricity can make some more gases visible.
Bonnie Daley Posted 4 years ago:
Be careful about saying that fog is a gas. ALL gases are invisible but fog is not invisible. Air is a better example of a gas.
Tina Schmidt Posted 5 years ago:
I have been doing this lesson for the last 8 years but I have never seen the Myth Busters youtube clip. The kids will love it! Thanks for sharing.
Marty Hohman Posted 5 years ago:
I did this lesson with my class today. They loved it! I enjoyed how the book tied into the lesson. The kids also loved watching the Myth Busters Utube clip. What fun!



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