I completely agree, and that's why I enjoyed using simulations and role-playing games in my classroom. One day my students were stuck inside due to the winter weather, and I made up a game where the kids pretended to be molecules and they moved according to the changes in states of matter. We reviewed the three states of matter, and I used water in my examples:
- Solids - Molecules are tightly packed and move slowly, staying in a rigid formation. (Ice would be an example of matter in a solid state.)
- Liquids - As solid matter is heated, the addition of energy causes molecules to move more quickly and spread apart. (Water is a liquid.)
- Gases - With the addition of more heat, the molecules move even faster and pread even farther apart. (Steam is the gaseous form of water.)
States of Matter Game
When it was time to play the game, I asked everyone to stand up, find a spot on the floor, and then move as I guided them through the states of matter. One of the rules was that they couldn't touch anyone or anything as they moved, so I had them cross their arms across their chests to keep their bodies in a compact form. They started out bunched together in one part of the room, barely moving as they role-played molecules in the solid state. Then I told them they were getting warmer and they needed to increase their speed and spread out accordingly. Finally, they became gas molecules and moved quickly but carefully all over the room. Anyone who touched something or someone had to sit out for a minute (mostly to calm down!). Download the directions from the Science page on Teaching Resources.
Water Cycle Adaptation
The States of Matter game is easily adapted to have students role-play the water cycle. You can have them clump together to form a water droplet and then guide them through alternating states of evaporation, condensation, and freezing.
Move to Learn Link Up
Because I think movement is so important in learning, I was excited when Rachel Lynette posted her Move to Learn link up. I decided to write this blog post to share one of my favorite ways to get kids moving. Even if you aren't studying states of matter, the game works great as a 5-minute energizer. With younger kids, you can leave out the science terminology and just tell them to speed up and slow down according to your directions. My students always loved this one! Please visit Rachel's original blog post on this topic for more ideas about how to get kids up and moving to learn!