What Does It Matter

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SWBAT define the term matter and use it correctly in the scientific format.

Big Idea

It is important for students to develop the vocabulary of a scientist by learning some terms that are used to classify large groups of objects.

Teacher Background

In this lesson students will work to gain an understanding of the term matter. This term is central to the unit so it is important that students can define and use the term correctly. 

Matter is defined as a physical substance, separate from mind and soul, that occupies space and has mass.

For second graders, understanding matter should be that it is a physical substance that takes up space and has mass or weight. This is a starting point for building a scientific understanding of the term. 

Defining Matter

15 minutes

I want students to walk away from this lesson with a basic understanding of the term matter. I begin with the idea that matter takes up space.

I do not start with the I Can statement today because the purpose of the lesson is to define the term and if I give a definition in the I Can statement, students will not have a chance to form their own definition.

I invite students to come to the rug. On the center of the rug I have placed a ball, a solid wooden block and a glass jar with a lid. I point to the objects and say, "what are these?" (I know the students will say a ball, a block and a jar) I say, "well yes and no, they are those things but they are also matter. Does anyone know what matter is?" Three Objects and The Term Matter I ask students to turn and tell a neighbor what they think it is. I bring them back together and ask for a few students to share their thoughts.Defining Matter After a Turn and Talk (I take 3 - 4 answers because if I take all of them, some of the students will drift away from the conversation so I limit the number of volunteers and keep the response time brief.)

I build upon any part of their definitions that may be correct, as I continue on.

I say, "I have heard some good definitions. Let's see if we can figure this out. I am going to hand around each object. Tell me what you notice. " I start 1 to the left, 1 to the right and I hold the last for now. They raise their hands and share the things they notice about each shape.  I begin to note their responses on the easel under 2 categories (Helps us know more about matter   -    Does not help us know more about matter.)Defining Matter Chart When we have 4 - 5 under each category I say, "what do we know about matter now?" (I help students refer to the easel if they are have trouble answering the questions. If they add something new about matter or not matter, I write it on the appropriate column.

"Ok, it looks as if you now have some idea about what matter is. I am going to ask you to go back to your seat and write down what you think matter is. I am going to also give you some pictures to cut apart. You will do both of these when you get back to your seat and then wait for my next direction.

Picture Sort

15 minutes

I hand students a journal page and ask them to write what they think the word matter means. After students have written their personal definition of matter, I hand them a second page. It contains 9 pictures, some of matter and some not of matter. I say, " I want you to cut the pages apart and glue them on your journal page under the correct heading. Think about the definition of matter you just wrote and decide how the pictures fit those definitions. When you have the pictures cut and sorted, glue them where you want them to be. We will share how we sorted the pictures after everyone completes his/her paper." I ask for questions and clarifications and then encourage students to begin. While students are working I circulate around the room to support students as they try to think about why they place the pictures the way they do. 

When everyone is done I ring the bell and ask students to take out their buddy wheels. One child draws a playing card and calls out the buddy wheel number. I ask students to take their journal page and go and sit with their buddy wheel buddy. Once everyone has moved into place I say, "now I want you to compare papers. If you have any of the pictures in different places, talk to each other about why you might have decided that a picture is or is not matter. If all your pictures are in the same place, or after you compare pictures that you placed differently, talk about the other pictures. I want each of you to be able to explain why a picture is in a particular place. Helping Students Discuss Placement of PicturesWe will talk as a large group in 5 minutes and I want everyone to be able to defend their decisions. Remember that in science, a person must be able to explain the choices they make and the things they discover." I let children discuss their reasoning and I circulate around listening to and supporting discussions.


Class Discussion and Definition of Matter

15 minutes

I ring the bell after about 5 minutes of discussion. I post the pictures on the Smart Board and ask students to talk about where they placed the pictures and why. I say, " Can anyone tell me about where they placed one of the pictures and why they placed it there?" We go through the pictures and talk about each one. After each student presents I say, "Does anyone disagree with that choice? Can you tell us why you disagree?" 

We discuss each picture and come to an agreement based on our definitions of matter. 

I end the lesson today by asking several students to share their definitions of matter. I say, "our I can statement for science today is, I can tell what matter is. Who thinks they can tell us what matter is?" After several students share I write a definition on the board combining their ideas. I say, "we need to remember that matter is something that takes up space. It is something we can touch, or could touch if we could reach it. It has weight or mass. We will learn much more about matter in the next few weeks."