Ah, the air temperature has finally gotten over 75, the cicadas were out in full force last weekend up in Northern Virginia, and we just finished the last grading period. All parents and teachers know what that means!

Of course now comes the hard part! What do you do when you hear-“Mom, I’m bored!” Don’t worry my friends, I have you covered! Science can always make the long summer afternoons a little more fun for all!

Marvelous Matter!

In two weeks I am doing training with a group of preschool teachers from Hampton. I am blessed to get the opportunity to do some really simple science with them. Super excited about this workshop as I will be teaching them about matter!

Solids, liquids, and gases oh my! Using water, teachers will learn the properties and other really cool stuff about matter. In preparing, I wanted to find an activity that would tie it all together and allow the teachers to learn how they could connect a topic again at another point in the year.

The best part about teaching matter is this- it’s everywhere. Stop reading this blog now and look up. What do you see?  Do you see examples of solids? What about any liquids? Right now as you breathe in you are breathing a gas called oxygen and then you exhale a gas called carbon dioxide! I know you were just thinking how science is so cool!! 

So in my quest to find the perfect idea, I stumbled across this:

Of course those of you who know me really well know I see all things through a lens of science! And this was just the right way to end my workshop! What is better than taking a solid which has a specific property (allows light to pass through but not the images on the other side) and create something fun and pretty at the same time!

Using Matter to Make a Sun Catcher!

Here is what you need:

  • Different colored flat, glass, beads. ( I found these  and they were a really good price for bulk: http://www.wholesalersusainc.com; you can also get them from Michael’s or any craft store)
  • Clear Glue (you can use the regular glue, but it does not dry clear)
  • Picture frame (I got mine at the dollar store-who can beat a $1)


Lay out the colors and work with your kids to make the design. You can provide your kids with a template or you can allow them to be creative.

First you put down a lot of the clear glue on the glass frame. I simply took out the guts of the back part of the frame so the glass was exposed.

Next, Hugh and I laid out our pattern on the table before we put them into the glue. Here you can see Hugh putting his together. Notice he has the beads in the rows as he wants to add them in the frame.

Hugh working on his creation!

This was what Hugh and I created together:

Beth decided to get more personal and tried her hand at making a letter B for her name!

Letter B for Beth!

Then all you do is put them in a place to allow them to dry really well. Here are two of the three final products(Beth’s had not finished drying!):

So think of other ways you could use these translucent solid pieces of glass beads!! I already have dreams of doing the glass table I have outside on the back deck.

So how does this connect to Matter??? 

Matter is anything that has mass and takes up space. It can exist in 4 different states-solids, liquids, gases, and plasma. All matter has certain properties that helps it to be distinguished from other objects. The physical properties of an object can be observed with the five senses. These glass beads are a great example of matter and an example of how understanding the physical properties of an object can lead to innovation!

To start off a lesson on matter, give your children a couple of these glass beads. Ask them to use their senses (except their sense of taste) to generate a list of words to describe them. They may describe the colors they see, how hard they feel, maybe they might even say they feel cold.

You can have the children sort the beads into groups based on the physical properties. They can even compare and contrast using a graphic organizer! Then you can have them build the sun catcher!

So go get some glass beads and create a piece of matter art!

Published by Jenny Sue