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I am student teaching in a fifth grade classroom and I am scared to death of teaching science. We are talking about motion and physical science right now. To make it more scary, I have to teach it to both of the 5th grade classes. I was wondering if anyone has any ideas or suggestions about hands-on activities that can keep the children interested and take some of the pressure off of me. I would appreciate any and all comments. Thanks. :)


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physical science vocabulary

Hi Lindsay,

I am just starting my phsyical science unit with my students this week. To introduce the vocabulary in our first chapter, I am doing the following "station" activity. I've never done this before, so you may want to tweak it to your class:


matter, mass, weight, physical properties, density, volume, mixture, solubility

At each "station," the students will have textbooks open to the correct page, and a hands-on investigation to help them create a meaning for each word. I have made a worksheet with specific questions on it for each station (the students will take the worksheet with them to each station and fill in the appropriate section as they go). I will first have the groups read their assigned sections (no more than 2 paragraphs)--timed (2 minutes or so). Then I will have them follow the directions on the worksheet to "investigate" each word. They will fill in the worksheet. Lastly, they will fill in their "vocabulary bank" with their definition for each word.

Materials for each station:

Matter--several classroom objects (paper, pens, desk, etc.)

Physical Properties--different colored and shaped balls

Mass--balance, stapler, paper clips

Weight--food scale, stapler

Volume--shoebox, rock, measuring cup, water, ruler (with centimeters)

Density--3 empty yogurt containers, rice, dried beans, nuts/bolts (fill each yogurt container to the top with each substance)

Mixture--box with markers, crayons, colored pencils mixed together (**I wanted to use sugar and iron filings...then seperate by magnet. I couldn't find iron filings in enough time).

Solubility--2 cups, water, ground black pepper, sugar, 2 spoons

Good luck with everything! :-)

P.S. I'm not quite sure how to attach things on this website, so I'll paste the worksheet that I've made. You're welcome to use it as you see fit. The formatting is off because of the cutting and pasting:


Physical Science—Chapter 1 Vocabulary Investigation

Follow the directions listed for each station. Fill in the appropriate section on your worksheet. Use your textbook to help you answer the questions.

Station 1: Matter--pg C6, paragraphs 1 and 2

1) What is matter?

2) Where can matter be found?

3) Give three examples of objects that contain matter.

Station 2: Physical Properties--pg C6, paragraphs 3 and 4

1) Describe the balls’ physical properties in complete sentences.

2) What are some examples of physical properties?

Station 3: Mass--pg C7, paragraph 1

*Place the stapler on one end of the balance. Place the paper clips on the other side of the balance.

1) Which object has more mass?______________________________

2) How do you know?______________________________________

3) Is mass a physical property? Explain your answer.

Station 4: Weight--pg C7, paragraph 2

*Place the stapler on the scale.

1) What is the stapler’s weight?_______________________

2) Divide the stapler’s weight by 6._____________________

3) What is the stapler’s “moon weight?”_________________

4) What is gravity?

Station 5: Volume--pg C8, paragraphs 1, 3, and 5

*Volume=length ● width ● height (lwh). Using the ruler, measure the length, width, and height of the box, using centimeters.

1) What is the volume of the box?________________cm

2) Record the amount of water in the measuring cup.______mL

*Put the rock in the measuring cup.

4) Record the amount of water in the measuring cup now._________mL

5) Subtract the new amount of water (#3) from the original amount of water (#2)

6) Describe two ways to measure volume.

Station 6: Density--pg C9, paragraphs 2,3, and 4

*Pick up each yogurt container. Read the labels that indicate the containers volume and mass.

1) Density= mass/volume. Calculate the density for each object.

a) rice: g/cm

b) beans: g/cm

c) bolts: g/cm

2) Does density always stay the same for a particular

Station 7: Mixture--pg C10, paragraphs 1,2, and 3

*Separate the crayons, colored pencils, and markers from each other.

1) Describe the physical properties of each object.



Colored Pencils:________________________________________

2) Name 2 other mixtures that you find in the real world

Station 8: Solubility--pg C10, paragraphs 4 and 5

*Pour the sugar into one cup of water. Stir with the spoon.
*Pour the pepper into one cup of water. Stir with the spoon.

1) Which substance dissolved into the water?______________

2) How could you tell which substance dissolved into the water without using your sense of sight?

3) Which substance is soluble?_______________________________

Alicia G

A book that might help...

Lindsay, See if your library has a book called "Roller Coaster Science." I loved working through a lot of this book with upper elem. kids. We learned centrifugal force, friction, potential and kinetic energy, pendulums ... all on the playground!