Buildings is a great topic for Primary School science and can be used to inspire some wonderful experiments and investigations perfect for learning about uses and properties of materials as well as starting to understand correct experimental procedures. The experiments and activities below are great for Materials at KS1, but can also be extended for older children.
Compare and group together a variety of everyday materials on the basis of their simple physical properties
First try grouping a selection of materials based on how they look? Shiny, dull etc. Does this help you decide what material they are made from? Can you sort a selection of toys into plastic, metal, fabric, and wood?
Try placing different everyday objects into a bag and ask the children to guess what the object is using their sense of touch, which features of the object lead them to their guess? Do metal objects feel cold for example?
See here for a full list of properties of different materials.
Distinguish between an object and the material from which it is made
Identify and name a variety of everyday materials, including wood, plastic, glass, metal, water, and rock
Mentally choose an object and ask a friend to guess what it is made from by asking questions such as “Can you see through it?”, “Is it solid?”
Describe the simple physical properties of a variety of everyday materials
Find about conducting and non conducting materials with these play dough circuits.
Investigate how materials we think of as being brittle can be strong in some instances, for example egg shell domes.
Test materials to see if they are magnetic, can you predict first which materials will stick to the magnet?
Remember – not all metals are attracted to magnets, but iron and steel ( steel is mostly iron ) are.
We’ve also got some fun magnetism experiments in this post.
Changing state and transforming materials
Did you know you can transform cream into butter?
Learn about how water expands when it changes state into ice and how to speed up the melting process.
Find out how the shapes of solid objects made from some materials can be changed by squashing, bending, twisting and stretching
Select a variety of materials and predict whether they can be squashed, bent, twisted or stretched by hand and if you think they will return to their original shape.
Good materials to try would be play dough, fabric, paper, soft balls, hard balls, a wooden rolling pin and a metal pan.
Test your predictions, were they correct?
Extension task – design a able to record your predictions.
Identify and compare the suitability of a variety of everyday materials
Try building houses for the Three Little Pigs, predicting first which materials will be most able to withstand the wolf’s puff. You could talk about how to make the your experiment fair by ensuring the amount of puff used each time is the same ( use a squeezy bottle ). As an extension task you could try spraying water on the structures to investigate which keep the pigs dry.
Test your knowledge
Test your new materials knowledge by making a superhero cape or a fairy wand, think about which materials are best suited the job and what properties each need. Would a straw or a stick make the best fairy wand for example?
How about building and testing a LEGO bridge?
Construct a mattress for the princess and the pea!
Try building a sweetie house and testing different materials for their stickiness and/or making a stable structure. We used strawberry laces to support our roof in the example below.
Just for fun
You could try some den building? How would you make it stable? What could you add to make your den waterproof.
We’ve got lots more ideas for learning about materials in this round up post too, and do let us know if you have any other ideas!!