Mixtures: Characteristic Properties - What is a characteristic property?

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Students will be able to understand what a characteristic property is and how properties can be used to separate mixtures.

Big Idea

What properties can you use to identify substances?

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Purpose of Lesson:

The purpose of this lesson is to solidify the students understanding of characteristic properties.  


Major Strategies to Watch for:

1) Reading and annotating- Students read and annotate a text to use later.

2) Frayer model- Students use information from the article to create a Frayer model for the term characteristic property.


3 minutes

Learning Goal:  Understand what characteristic properties are and how they can be used.

Opening Question: Think about someone in your family.  How would describe them to another person? What are the properties that make them unique from other people? 

The purpose of this question is to give students relatable examples of characteristic properties. However, it does have some drawbacks. For example, hair color will often be a property that students will list, however, hair color can change. When I'm teaching this, I work hard to push the students to characteristic properties like skin color, dimples, mouth shape, and so on.

Students record their opening question on their learning goal sheet and are ready to start class 3 min after the bell has rung. I reward students who get started early with ROCK STAR SCIENTIST tickets.  

Follow the links to learn more about the beginning of class strategies and ROCK STAR scientist tickets


5 minutes

The Gold - How its made video used for today's hook is interesting but not totally aligned to the learning. I wanted to find a video that just explored the properties of  gold, but instead, I found this video about how gold is extracted from the earth. I decided to use this video for two reasons:

1) It does contain a lot of information about gold and its properties.

2) It is a nice introduction to the purpose behind separation of mixtures.

However, I've found that you can't just show this video! You need to stop and comment at different times pointing out the characteristic properties of gold and the methods they are using to separate the gold from the ore.


10 minutes

At this point in the learning, I am ready for kids to read about characteristic properties.  I like to start with real experiences so that they can bring their ideas into their reading.  This reading today is Day 1 of a two day reading.  This text is deceptively simple.  It is only one page, but it is jammed with great information we can return to again and again.  

For today's job the students will be reading silently and annotating.  In my class, these skills are long established and students understand the norms, but I still get out my anchor chart to make sure that students remember how to be successful.


10 minutes

Once students have read the text the first time, I ask them to use our discussion starters to discuss the characteristic properties we have looked at in class, magnetism and solubility.  I walk around the room, making sure that I hear students going back to the text to answer the questions.  A great tool that teachers can use to monitor student discussions is Class dojo.  This tool allows you to point out great thoughts students are having as well as keep the entire class on task.

For this discussion I ask these questions.

  1. What is a characteristic property?
  2. How did we use magnetism as a characteristic property?
  3. How did we use solubility as a characteristic property?
  4. Is color a characteristic property? Can you give an example?
  5. Is strength a characteristic property? Can you give an example?


5 minutes

The purpose of this section is to make sure students know how to create a Frayer Model. I choose to use a Frayer for the concept of CHARACTERISTIC PROPERTY because it is a pivotal concept of this unit.  Also, the students will be able to use the reading to pull ideas from for the definition and characteristics. 

Below is a screencast of modeling how to construct a Frayer model.

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10 minutes

The purpose of this section is to make the Frayer model for Characteristic Property. There are a number of materials you can use to have students construct Frayers. One of my favorites is to hand out 3 x 5 note cards because these can easily be hung on the wall as a class display.

In this case though, I am having students make the Frayer in their lab notebooks, so that they will be able to access the work again and again.

This section can either completed as Independent work, Collaborative work, or Guided work. In this situation I choose Guided work because I wanted to make sure that students were pulling information from the article to use as part of their definition and characteristics. However, I did not "model" this for the kid; meaning I did not give the kids the definition and the characteristics, I expected them to find that information for themselves from the article.  


2 minutes

Closing Statement: "Today we learned what characteristic properties are and some examples.  Tomorrow we will start using  those properties to identify substances."

Closing Question:  "Which of the properties in the article do you think would be the most useful in identifying substances?"

Closure depends greatly on timing and is not as easy to plan in advance as opening.  You can find more information about how I manage closure here.