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  • Writer's pictureBird

The Accidental (but best) Lesson on the Phases of Matter

So we all know by now that I'm a homeschooling/unschooling mama, but did you know that I'm also a prophet??? No?! Well remind me to tell you about that some time. For now, I'll just give you a little backstory on how I came to deliver one hell of a science lesson.

Yesterday, the sun was shining so Lion and I bundled up the Littles and went to the park. While we were out, the kids collected bits and pieces of nature (flowers, twigs, leaves, etc.). They do this almost every time that we go outside. But yesterday was the first day that we decided to turn their nature collection into "Nature Ice". I was struck with the idea to add their findings to some boiled water, and then freeze it. And so we did.

And this:

Turned into this the next day:

The beauty of unschooling is that we learn as we live. This means that I never have to plan lessons or follow a curriculum. The most that I do is keep a list of Things I Think The Kids Should Know. This list evolves constantly and lives in the back of my mind. Whenever an opportunity to learn something on the list presents itself, we dive into it organically. This approach to learning works so well for us, even more so since we've been traveling.

So anyway, that was yesterday.

This morning, when I was floating through the space between the subconscious and conscious realms, Spirit told me: Teach Zion about the phases of matter.

I wrote this down in my list, and then I thought to myself 'Great, now I gotta figure out how to teach science???'

I am NOT a science girl.

Shocking, right?

Fastforward a little: After breakfast, I asked the Littles if they wanted to check out our Nature Ice. Of course, they did.

(Yes, that is classical music playing in the background. Lion plays it for them in the mornings.)

They observed our creation, played with it, and declared that it was now our pet iceberg. They named her Antarctica Fuji.

As she was melting, I asked if they wanted to add more water to her and they responded emphatically to the affirmative. So I boiled some more water (by using boiled water, it remains mostly clear and transparent when it freezes) and allowed it to cool in a bowl for a bit.

And this is when it all came together!

As the boiled water was cooling down in a bowl, Chapi and Bambina noticed the steam and got excited. They waved their hands through it and went back and forth between the coolness of the ice and the warmth of the steam. In that moment, I knew that this was the Phases of Matter lesson. Right in front of us, we had all 3 phases!

Water: Liquid

Ice: Solid

Steam: Gas

So I started asking questions

  • Do you like the way that feels?

  • What do you think it's made of?

  • Why is the steam warm?

  • Why is the ice cold?

  • At what temperature does water turn into ice?

  • What would happen if I put this bowl of water in the freezer for a day?

  • What would happen if I poured it in a pot and put it over fire on the stove?

As we talked about all this, I very quickly and simply connected the dots to explain the 3 phases of matter. No diagrams, textbooks or worksheets necessary.

And that was that.

Simple and sweet.

So I reiterate; we learn as we live.

And it all works out in the end.

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