Key stage 2
Science lesson plans
Characteristics of materials
Key stage 1
- To recognise simple properties of materials, such as strength, flexibility, transparency.
- To understand that materials are suitable for making a particular object because of their properties.
- Online activities:
- Learning Zone Broadband Class Clips:
- Other resources:
- Everyday items made from a range of different materials (metal, glass, paper, fabric, rubber, plastic)
- Large sheet of material
- Interactive whiteboard
- Cards showing the words 'waterproof', 'flexible', 'strong', 'transparent'
- Pictures of a tyre, a towel, a saucepan, a window, a notebook and a drink bottle
You will need Adobe Acrobat reader to access the PDF files. BBC Webwise has a complete guide to downloading and installing Adobe Acrobat reader.
- Watch Learning Zone Class Clips - Materials and their uses.
- Ask the children to get into pairs and list the materials from the clip and what they are used for.
- Recap on the fact that a material is the substance from which a thing is made (the word doesn't just mean fabric).
- Show the everyday items and ask the children what material each one is made from.
- Make a list of these materials on a large sheet of paper.
- Watch Learning Zone Class Clips - Which material?
- Pause and discuss how to keep the test fair. Discuss what the fairy godmother's results show. What did she do wrong?
- Place the four cards around the room (waterproof, flexible, strong, transparent). Make a statement such as "Does not let water through". Ask the children to run to where the correct word is (waterproof) to check their understanding of key scientific words.
- Play the Bitesize Characteristics of material activity. Explain that you are going to test each material to find out how it usually behaves.
- Drag the paper into the tester. Ask different children to come up to carry out one of the four tests. Ask them to predict what they think will happen.
- Ask if there are any other obvious properties the children could add (eg paper is light).
- Repeat this activity for the other materials.
- Click on the Workshop button in the Bitesize Characteristics of material activity. Show the children the blueprints for the tyre, towel, saucepan, window, notebook and drinks bottle. In pairs, ask them to predict a good material to make each object from, to explain why it would be a good material, and also to suggest a material it could not be made from and why. Ask the children to write their choices on the characteristics of materials worksheet (PDF 56KB).
- On the interactive whiteboard, use the Workshop to check the children's predictions.
- For each object, ask: What are its functions and what properties does it need? Which material has those properties? Which material would not be a good choice? Why?
- Ask the children to design an umbrella to keep off the rain.
- Ask them first to brainstorm a list of possible materials they could make it from.
- Explain that they should then go through the list and decide why it would not be sensible to make an umbrella from some of the materials.
- Alternatively, ask the children to complete the characteristics of materials worksheet (PDF 56KB).
- Ask the children to make four different designs for a cup, each made from a different material. Two of the designs must work and two of them must not work.
- Ask the children to explain why each of the cups will be a success or a failure.