Grade 5 Physical and Chemical Changes Lesson Plan

Photo credit Getty Images

I have a Science lesson your grade 5s are sure to love! It involves some simple, but fun experiments that help your students learn the difference between physical and chemical changes, and appeal to those with limited attention spans because there is so much going on in the lesson. I’ve given you a summary of the lesson and you can access the full lesson details at the bottom of the page.

Lesson Overview

In groups, students will go through a series of change stations. At each of these stations the matter will undergo either a physical or chemical change. It is up to your students to identify which is which and explain their reasoning in a reflection worksheet at the end of the stations. The lesson allows students to do many experiments in one day, thus keeping things interesting and they get to work on their teamwork and collaboration as they go through the activity.

Ontario Science Curriculum Expectations

Overall Expectations
2. Conduct investigations that explore the properties of matter and changes in matter
3. Demonstrate an understanding of the properties of matter, changes of state, and physical and chemical change

Specific Expectations
2.3. use scientific inquiry/experimentation skills to investigate changes of state and changes in matter
2.5. use appropriate science and technology vocabulary, including mass, volume, properties, matter, physical and chemical changes, in oral and written communication
3.4. describe physical changes in matter as changes that are reversible
3.5. describe chemical changes in matter as changes that are irreversible
3.8 distinguish between a physical change and a chemical change

How does this promote meaningful Science learning?

-gives students opportunity to collect data from multiple experiments and communicate their thoughts on those findings
-the experiments show physical and chemical changes in a variety of ways, showing students how physical changes and chemical reactions are always happening all around them
-short duration of experiments help keep students motivated and engaged
-working initially in groups and then individually allow students to discuss their thoughts with others, potentially clarifying their views before going on to the written component (that will be formally assessed)


You can access the lesson and the corresponding worksheet and rubric here!

National Gallery of Canada’s Online Resources for Teachers: An Overview

M.C. Escher Mindscapes is one of the many online showcases
at the National Gallery of Canada

The National Gallery of Canada, located in Ottawa, Ontario, is a fantastic gallery and I urge anyone who is in Ottawa to take your students to see it. Galleries give students a tremendous opportunity to see art of different mediums, cultures, and time periods, and all usually with the help of a docent to focus their viewing of the pieces. However, for those that aren’t in the Ottawa area, the National Gallery still provides educators with opportunities to show their students some amazing art through their online resources.

The online showcases are a way for teachers to show their students some of the permanent collections of the gallery without making the trek to Ottawa. The showcase doesn’t just show the artwork but also has interviews with some of the artists, historical background, and explanations for some of the pieces. Its not quite as fun as going to the gallery itself, but it does make art accessible when you simply can’t make it to the gallery.


All three overall curriculum expectations can be addressed through the activities and the online showcase on the website. There are several games/online activities students can play on the site that go beyond simply colouring or decorating an image. There are games about recognizing features and symbols in paintings called Eye Spies and Stories in Art respectively. Students are able to learn about the elements and principles of design. They also have the opportunity to reflect on pieces of art and to appreciate the historical and cultural context of those pieces of art.


The activity I’m most excited about is the Canadian Landscapes activity, which organizes paintings of Canada’s landscapes into the many faces of Canada (urban, rural, wilderness). I think this activity would be a good starting point for some cross-curricular exploration of Visual Arts and Social Studies. Students could learn about the different geographic regions of Canada and then create a painting of a region of their choice.

“Balsam Ave, Toronto.” William Kurelek. 1973. Mixed Media

For older students, there are a few activities available as well, one of which is called Deconstructing Art. This activity takes several paintings and then helps students pull apart different sections of those works such as the elements, perspectives, and themes of the painting. I like this activity because its visual organization makes it easy to break down the elements of a painting, even if you aren’t a proficient artist or critic.


I like that the emphasis for much of the resources and lesson plans on the site is about having a personal connection to the artwork in addition to gaining historical and cultural context. I’m a fan of art history and criticism, but not every student is, nor will every student go onto keeping art in their lives after they’re finished school. That’s why it’s important to make sure students have a personal connection and see the value in art. Even if they may not be frequenting galleries or creating art of their own, if they have positive memories of art or can at least gain some enjoyment from viewing art, then you as an Arts teacher has done a good job!

Ultimately, it all depends on how creative the teacher is when using these activities and lesson plans in the classroom, but the National Gallery lays a good groundwork through their online resources. Even without a field trip, students can have some fun and learn something of value through the National Gallery.

You can access their website here and go to “Learn” to see all the education specific games, podcasts, and showcases.

Grade 4 Early Societies Unit Plan!

Raphael. “School of Athens.” 1509-1511. Apostolic Palace,
Vatican City.

Have I got a treat for you! As our final assignment for the Social Studies course at Brock University, my group members and I have compiled a 12 lesson unit plan for the Grade 4 Early Societies strand. Most of these lessons are longer than one hour, so will provide your students with weeks, even a couple months (depending on how you organize the class schedule) of fun and exploration of world civilizations. You can access the unit plan and the links to the individual lessons here.

The Big Idea for the unit is: how has the environment impacted the development of societies? This unit plan is strongly influenced by the ideas of Jared Diamond from Guns, Germs, and Steel fame. For those unfamiliar with Diamond’s work, the Reader’s Digest version of his thesis is that gaps in power and technology between civilizations is influenced by environmental differences. Students will have opportunities to explore this idea through a variety of assignments that involve collaboration, technology, integrate other subjects such as Language or the Arts, and allow students to choose their own adventure through inquiry projects.

There are so many fascinating civilizations to study that our group tried to pick societies from multiple continents so students would not have a purely Eurocentric exposure to early societies. We chose to do lessons on Egypt, Greece, Mayans, Medieval England, and Medieval China.

Our culminating assignment will also knock yours (and hopefully your students’) socks off. Students get to create their own civilization!! Based on everything they’ve learned about ancient and medieval societies, they can take the best and leave out the worst of these societies. So many fun questions they’ll get to consider! What continent will their civilization be on? How important will art, culture, or trade be to the civilization? What sort of government will it have? I kind of want to do one for fun!

Will your students choose to make a democracy or become a

Please feel free to contact me if you use any of the lessons or if you make any changes to the lessons for your own classroom. I am always learning and on the hunt for ways to be a better teacher and give students a better learning experience!

8P10 Course Reflection: The Benefits of Self-Reflection and Blended Learning

“We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.”
–Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time 

This has been a very eventful semester for me as I’ve been working like a madwoman to get my ducks in a row before my son was born on the 12th. By and large I accomplished my goal of getting all the major assignments done ahead of time, it’s just small things such as this blog post/course reflection that I have to take care of now. My ability to get things done ahead of time was helped quite a bit by the blended learning of this and some of my other courses.

Since Cooper was born, I’ve been thinking a lot about accessibility. Armed with a stroller, I have a newfound appreciation for any store or establishment that has a ramp! Blended learning and a tech-friendly classroom is my academic ramp because it allows me to participate when my health and familial responsibilities make it difficult for me to physically be in class. I think blended learning could serve the same purpose in a Junior/Intermediate classroom.

Now, it is unlikely that any student in a J/I class is going to have a baby to take care of, but there are many other reasons why a student may need to video conference into class or do their learning at their own pace online. Maybe they get injured while playing sports or have to get their appendix removed. A classroom where the teacher uploads assignments and course material online would give those students the opportunity to keep up with their homework.

For students that struggle with participating in class, perhaps due to shyness or because it takes them longer than average to collect their thoughts, having a forum set up where they can add their thoughts gives those students a chance to make their voice heard, but in a way that might be more comfortable for them because they can save their responses, edit them, or completely rewrite them until they’re perfect.