Pigby, Digby, and Chuck Learn About Matter

Teaching Elementary Science

by Megan

My eldest son is a science fiend. He devours all science books he can get his hands on. He loves to do science projects with my husband. He loves watching science videos, Bill Nye the Science Guy being his favorite.

This year for our science curriculum, we’re using REAL Science Odyssey Earth Science & Astronomy Level 1. I feel like it has the right balance of interesting, factual text and fun, hands-on projects. It also has worksheets for recording data, which makes my life easier.

This week, we did the Unit 2 lab #1 demonstration. Unit 2 is about the water cycle and for this lab we observed water molecules in their solid, liquid, and gas states.

We started off by taking a dry jar, making sure that it was dry by feeling it, then adding ice and water, drying off the outside, and letting it sit. We came back to the jar when we were done with the rest of the demo.


Next, we took some ice cubes and put them in the hot pot. Before we turned the hot pot on, we felt the ice cubes and Pigby recorded his observations on the accompanying worksheet. We did the same with a bowl of water and the water vapor in the air.


Next, we turned the hot pot on and watched the ice melt into water and then turn into steam. As the water heated, I pointed out the moving air bubbles and how the hotter the water got, the more they moved.  I said the same thing was happening with the water molecules; we just couldn’t see them individually.


Then we discussed how to get water vapor in the air to turn back into a solid. We did this by pouring the boiling water into a jar and then putting an upside-down lid filled with ice on top. They could see the steam fogging up the sides of the jar and then see the droplets fall back to the bottom.  I also lifted the lid and and showed them the condensation that had gathered on it.


Next, we compared the two jars. I wiped my fingers on the outside of the hot jar and showed them that my fingers were dry. Then I let them wipe the outside of the cold jar and they could see the water that had gathered. I asked if the water in the cold jar had leaked through the glass. Pigby said yes, but I again explained how condensation works.

And while Pigby finished writing his observations, I let the littler two put their mittens on and play in the ice in the cooler. This might have been their favorite part.


Some points I’d like to make: While the pictures show the little two patiently observing, I would like to make it known that keeping three and four-year-olds occupied is fairly difficult, even with an intriguing subject. The pictures don’t show them crawling over, under, and around the table! The pictures don’t show me telling them to back up before they burned their faces in the steam. They spent most of the time playing in the ice cooler and asking me questions both related and not related to the subject at hand. This is all normal and a little frustrating, but the thing to do is just go with it and redirect as you can. Playing in ice is more important for a three-year-old than trying to stay quiet and listen to explanations on molecules and condensation. Get them to participate as much as you can (mostly to keep them occupied and out of trouble) but don’t be surprised when they wander as much as they can.

Megan–Megan is mom to three children: Pigby (boy, age 7), Digby (boy, age 4), and Chuck megan(girl, age 2).  She loves history, ballroom dance, and crocheting.  She made the decision to homeschool when her oldest was three and they’ve been on this journey ever since.

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