Observable Properties of Matter

Heather Benn
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Experiment/Lab Activity , Lesson/Lesson Plan , Activity
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



This lesson allows students to collect data and sort objects according to their observable properties such as texture, color, weight, size, and temperature with direct instruction and in cooperative groups. The lesson includes many instructional supports (e.g., KWL, cooperative groups) for students to engage in the lab and the subsequent categorizing of materials.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Early Elementary
Access Restrictions

Free access with user action - The right to view and/or download material without financial barriers but users are required to register or experience some other low-barrier to use.

Performance Expectations

2-PS1-1 Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.

Clarification Statement: Observations could include color, texture, hardness, and flexibility. Patterns could include the similar properties that different materials share.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The students engage in an investigation, but do not plan the investigation. To support the student’s ability to reach the Performance Expectation, the teacher may engage the students in a brainstorm about the different classifications. The students may be given a set of “new” objects and then conduct an investigation in which they classify the objects. The students could be challenged to take pictures or draw pictures of items at home and then document claims with evidence as to how they classified them and explain their reasoning.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The students plan the investigation guided by the teacher. The teacher could include a more explicit planning element by having the students engage in the question, "How can we sort these objects?" in an authentic way (e.g., providing materials, requiring a minimal guidance for tool use.). Next, the students could develop a plan for collecting the data.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The lesson explicitly addresses all of the Core Idea within the Performance Expectation.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The Crosscutting Concept is met through the lesson.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The alignment to the NGSS is strong and appropriate for early elementary grades.The teacher may need additional supports in addition to the lesson to help the students plan the investigation. There could also be educative support for new teachers for planning and maintaining collaborative group structures.

  • Instructional Supports: Instructional supports are varied. They include lab charts and KWL. There is no explicit mention of modified supports for students with language or special education needs.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The monitoring opportunities are listed within the document, but teachers may struggle monitoring young students responses within the collaborative group structure.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: There are some technical supports for the teacher including description of the measuring tools that use technology.