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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre's online course, Teaching Primary Science: Chemistry. Join the course to learn more.

Properties of materials

It is important to give children practical, hands-on experience of investigating the properties of wide range of materials. Using a simple key can ensure that a full range of physical properties are explored (and perhaps argued about!).

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has produced a fabulous illustrated poster, together with a property key, as an example of how this activity could be structured. This is part of a wider set of resources about materials. This is a topic which you can have a lot of fun with. Would you use a laptop to cut a slice of bread? Or wear clothes made out of newspaper? Where children are starting to think about the properties of materials that make them suitable or unsuitable for particular purposes, photographs can be used as a stimulus to get them thinking about unusual or creative uses for everyday materials.


Have a look for images of unusual or creative uses of everyday materials which you could use as stimulus material for a lesson on this topic. Share a link to the image below, and we can build up a bank of examples for everyone to use in the classroom

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching Primary Science: Chemistry

National STEM Learning Centre