Learning About States of Matter

One of the things I know about Buddy is that he needs to DO. Touch. Hold. Make. Yesterday we learned about the states of matter. After we talked about it and they both understood, we went to the kitchen to really learn it. 

There’s a theory about learning called Dale’s Cone of Experience, which basically states the more involved the learner becomes, the more they retain. I love this theory and believe in in wholeheartedly, and it’s a big part of our homeschool learning. 

We headed to the kitchen and combined two states (solid and liquid) to make a third (gas). In a plastic ziplock bag each kid poured 1/4 cup warm water and 1/2 cup vinegar. In a tissue they each placed 3 teaspoons of baking soda and wrapped it up, hobo bag style. Then they sealed most of the bag, stuffed in the tissue, quickly sealed up the rest, and waited for the magic to begin!

The process starts slowly because it takes a little while for the tissue to dissolve, but once the baking soda really hits the vinegar, it’s awesome! The bag begins to swell as it fills with the gas created by the chemical reaction between the vinegar and baking soda. 

I love this experiment because the kids can see the results – which is tricky to do with gas! They both enjoyed the experiment and it helped them to understand the three states better. That’s what we call a win!
Here are the supplies, all of which we already had at home. 

  • Gallon sized ziplock bag
  • Tissue
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup warm water

This activity also has the kids measuring using a measuring cup and teaspoon, which sneaks in math. Make sure to let them do this – even little kids! You might need to help tilting the vinegar bottle with littler ones, but in order for the concepts to cement in their minds, they need to do as much as possible. Your job is to supply, guide, and observe. I mention this because it’s something I have to consciously do because it’s my instinct to take over so things are as efficient as possible. But kids aren’t efficient and that’s OK! Neither is learning. 

We moved outside just in case it got messy, but it didn’t. Well, until I let them stomp on the bags to pop them. Definitely do that outside!

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