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States of Matter Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Dacia Upkins

Dacia has taught all core elementary subjects for 14 years with a Master's degree in Urban Teacher Leadership.

In this lesson, you will learn about the three most common states of matter, including solids, liquids, and gases. By the end of this lesson, you will be able to identify and compare these states of matter.

What Are the States of Matter?

Shana came home from school one day with a riddle to solve. She had to figure out the name of something that can be poured, but can also be broken. It can float, but it can also melt. What kind of super substance can do all of these things? After some research, she learned that the answer is something we drink everyday: WATER!

Like other matter (which is all the stuff around you), water can be found or turned into different states of matter, or forms. States of matter are used to describe physical properties (the features you can observe) of matter--whether something is a solid, liquid, or gas. For instance, water is a liquid when melted. It's solid when frozen into ice. And it's a gas when boiled to make steam.

All matter is made up of particles (tiny pieces of matter). The way these particles move around (or don't move around) is how we classify matter into these three different groups. Let's look at each state of matter below:

Solids

Imagine being in a crowded room where nobody can move. Solids are made up of particles like this--they're so tightly packed together that they can't move about freely. Since they're stuck in place, their shape usually stays the same. The easiest way to identify a solid is by checking to see if it's hard and has its own shape.

Solids include things like TVs and ice. Don't be confused by things like sand and clay, which may not look like solids but actually are. Sand is just made up of very small pieces of solids, and when clay is left alone, it remains in its shape until molded.

Ice cubes are in the solid state.
The ice cube is in the solid state of matter.

Liquids

Now imagine that there were fewer people in that room and people could walk around comfortably. Liquids have particles that can move around in a similar way. Unlike solids, liquids don't have a shape of their own because the particles move around more. Instead, liquids take on the shape of the cups, jars, bowls, or other containers they're in. They include many liquids we love, like soda, hot cocoa, and drinking water!

The particles in liquids move freely, but close together.
The particles in liquids move freely, but close together.

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