Spark awareness of the properties and purposes of materials

Use this collection of cards to help develop understanding of different properties of materials, and how these properties affect a material’s suitability for different purposes. The properties addressed include terms such as ‘permeable’, ‘transparent’ and ‘magnetic’.

Skill development

Children will develop their working scientifically skills by:

  • Asking questions about scientific phenomena.
  • Selecting and planning the most appropriate ways to answer science questions, including:
    • Grouping and classifying things.

Learning outcomes

Children will:

  • 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.
  • Describe the simple physical properties of a variety of everyday materials.

Concepts supported

Children will learn:

  • That everyday objects can be sorted according to their simple physical properties.
  • That an object is made up of one or more materials.
  • The definitions of some simple physical properties, including transparent, magnetic, impermeable and natural.

Suggested activity use

This resource is incredibly flexible in its potential use. It could be used as a starter or plenary to a lesson on materials. Alternatively, it could be used as a directed group activity or for some independent learning. You could differentiate the task by altering the group parameters, making the properties more or less complex depending on your students.

Practical considerations

Students may need prior learning of vocabulary relating to physical properties, such as ‘porous’, ‘permeable’, and ‘transparent’.

Try these additional resources

  • Create a materials trail to help young learners explore the materials in their environment with the Primary Science Teaching Trust’s materials trail resource.