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20 October 2014
Schools  >> All subjects for ages 4 - 11 years Science Clips
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Science topics ages 7 - 8
Characteristics of Materials

Curriculum relevance | Online lesson plan
Offline lesson plan | Worksheet | Activity |

Offline lesson plan


Understand that materials are suitable for making a particular object because of their properties, and that some properties are more important than others when deciding what to use

National Curriculum

England: Key Stage 2, Sc3, 1a

Wales: Key Stage 2, Materials and their properties, 1.1

Northern Ireland: Key Stage 2, Materials, Properties a, c

Scotland: 5-14 Guidelines, Science, Materials from Earth, Level B

Resources required

Copies of Characteristics of materials worksheet from the Science Clips website

Six each of everyday items such as tea-towels, rulers, cups, elastic bands

Teaching activities

Write on the board or on a large sheet of paper a list of materials and a list of properties. Go through each material and ask which of the properties it has.

Tell the children you are going to think about which materials would be suitable for a making a notebook. What is a notebook used for? Which of the materials in our list can you write on? Make a list of these materials. Why are some of these materials unsuitable for a notebook even though you can write on them (e.g. too heavy, too bulky, the ink rubs off)? Which material is the most suitable? What properties does this material have that makes it the most suitable? Repeat this discussion for other everyday items, e.g. a towel, a saucepan, a window, an umbrella.

Divide the class into six groups. Give each group a collection of everyday items. In their groups, children fill in the Characteristics of materials worksheet recording the name of each item, its use, what it is made from, and why this is a good material to use.

Why would these new inventions fail? A glass umbrella, a rubber cup, cardboard boots, a paper house, a metal shopping bag. In each case, you suggest one property of the material that makes it suitable for that purpose, and ask the children to explain why it would not be suitable.


Children look at objects made from two or more different materials, e.g. a saucepan, or a ring binder, and explain why different parts of the object have to be made from different materials.

Suggested homework

Design three new inventions for household items that are destined to fail.


Resources for teachers

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