What is Matter? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Kerry Momnie

Kerry has taught for eleven years in grades 4-8 and is currently a 5th grade classroom teacher. Kerry also has a master's degree and is a certified reading specialist.

In this lesson we'll investigate what matter is made of and what happens when different forms of matter are combined! Let's read on to learn more about matter.

Matter: The Building Blocks of the World

Imagine that you're baking a cake. You lay out all of the ingredients and prepare to follow the recipe. First you mix together flour and sugar, then you add butter, eggs and milk. As you stir the ingredients together, they begin to blend into a single batter, and you're no longer able to pick out the original components of the recipe. Why does this happen? It's because of how matter works when it comes into contact with other forms of matter.

What Is Matter Made Of?

Matter can come in the form of a solid, liquid or gas. But what exactly are those states of matter made of? All solids, liquids and gases are made of atoms, the building blocks of matter. More specifically, atoms are the simplest form of matter and cannot be broken down.

Atoms are extremely tiny and are unable to be seen with the human eye, but they are all around us and even in us! Everything that exists in the universe, from the food that you eat, the air that you breathe and the clothes that you wear, are made of atoms. Even the human body is made up of trillions and trillions of atoms!

Atoms are not all the same, however. In fact, there are 118 different types of atoms, called elements. Of these elements, 92 are natural, and the rest are man-made. You're probably familiar with many of these elements, including oxygen, aluminum and iron.


When elements come into contact with other elements, different things can happen. Oftentimes, when elements meet, their structure changes and a compound is formed. A compound is when two elements are chemically combined to create a new substance. Many common substances around us are made up of compounds. For instance, you are probably familiar with the compound that makes up water, or H2 O. This common compound is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.

Mixtures and Solutions

When matter comes into contact with other forms of matter, different things can happen. Oftentimes, when elements are combined, their structure changes, creating a new substance. This is called a solution, or a type of mixture that forms when one substance dissolves into another.

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