Unit Plan: Matter

Science / Grade 4

Big Ideas

Matter has mass, takes up space, and can change phase.




  • Matter
  • Phase change
Essential Questions

Students will keep considering…

Overarching Essential Question

  • What role does matter have in the universe?

Topical Essential Questions

  • PART A: How are observations different from inferences?
  • PART B: In what ways can matter be classified?
  • PART C: In what ways might matter change state?

As an overview or if you wish to combine the units in Grade 4 Science, an overarching essential question to consider:

  • In what ways might matter and energy have a role in the universe?
Evaluative Criteria

Teacher Evaluative Criteria:

Overall Criteria for Rubric:

Student is able to

  • Make predictions based on prior knowledge
  • Collect simple data/observations
  • Sort and classify materials
  • Make simple inferences
  • Communicate results
  • Compare results with predictions
  • Transfer and apply learning to new situations

Mystery Substance Lab Report

Student can demonstrate

  • Scientific method is followed accurately
  • Clarity of the hypothesis
  • Clarity of the procedure
  • Quality and thoroughness of the observations
  • Clarity and effectiveness of the tables/graphic organizers used to classify data and present findings
  • Justification of the classification and inferences/conclusions
  • Thoroughness of the journal

The Water Cycle Story

Student can demonstrate

  • Accuracy of the molecules in the three states and during phase change in the water cycle
  • Quality and thoroughness of the explanations
  • Quality of the presentation
Monitoring Progress

Teacher will monitor progress:

  • Collect Entrance Slips, Exit Slips, and Science Journal to check for student understanding and student reflections. Teacher can alter lessons according to the level of student understanding.
  • Teacher can maintain records using a rubric and anecdotal comments (especially of curricular processes during labs)
  • Teacher will provide one-on-one feedback or comments in response to Entrance Slips, Exit Slips, and the Science Journal


To be inclusive of all learners, adaptations and extensions are provided for each lesson in the Learning Events (see each lesson).

Adaptations (See lessons)

Basic facts about the states of matter, explanations of the molecules in the state of matter, and phase changes will be provided with text, visuals, and video links.

In addition, to including hands-on experiences, access to visuals, and technological resources during each lesson.

Also, students may be encouraged to work in pairs/groups to be able to discuss their ideas and brainstorm.

Allow for choice of performance/product: writing, comic, iMovie, oral re-telling, printed on the computer, etc.

Extension (See lessons)

Activities will also be available for students to use time to inquire into questions about matter.




  • Look, Listen, Taste, Touch and Smell: Learning About Your Five Senses by Pamela Hill Nettleton
  • What’s the Matter in Mr. Whiskers’ Room? by Michael Elsohn Ross



  • Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning by Page Keeley
  • Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church and Karin Morrison (Thinking Routines will be found in here!)
  • Grade 7 Science Probe Textbook
  • Grade 3-6 Properties and Behaviour: Matter & Energy by Evan-Moor Corp.
  • Grade 4-6 Simple Chemistry by Evan-Moor Corp.

How will teachers and their students reflect on and evaluate the completed project?

Next time I teach this unit I would…

Allow students to select the short stories that link to Identity.

My students needed:


Potential Student Misunderstanding:

  • Observations and Inferences are not the same thing.
  • Matter is not energy.
  • Phase changes are physical changes, not chemical changes.

Unit Overview




Science: Chemistry







Unit Overview

This unit introduces the concept of matter to grade four students. When the unit is complete, the students will be able to use appropriate scientific terminology to explain that the world around them is made up of matter and how it can change. During this unit, students will be able to independently use their learning to hypothesize, observe, infer, classify, and communicate findings. This unit can be taught before or after the grade four science unit on energy; both of the units can be combined by focusing on the main understanding that everything in the universe is made up of matter and energy.






Unit Duration

3-6 weeks


Related Big Ideas

Science | Physics: 4
Energy is a property of matter and can be transferred between objects and converted in form, but it cannot be created or destroyed.

Math: 4
Increasing and decreasing patterns can be represented using tables and charts 

The following resources are made available through the British Columbia Ministry of Education. For more information, please visit BC’s New Curriculum.


Big Ideas

The Big Ideas consist of generalizations and principles and the key concepts important in an area of learning. The Big Ideas represent what students will understand at the completion of the curriculum for their grade. They are intended to endure beyond a single grade and contribute to future understanding.

Visit the Ministry of Education for more information

Core Competencies

orangecommunicationCommunications Competency

The set of abilities that students use to impart and exchange information, experiences and ideas, to explore the world around them, and to understand and effectively engage in the use of digital media

bluethinkingThinking Competency

The knowledge, skills and processes we associate with intellectual development

greensocialSocial Competency

The set of abilities that relate to students’ identity in the world, both as individuals and as members of their community and society

Visit the Ministry of Education for more information

Curricular Competencies & Content

Curricular Competencies are the skills, strategies, and processes that students develop over time. They reflect the “Do” in the Know-Do-Understand model of curriculum. The Curricular Competencies are built on the thinking, communicating, and personal and social competencies relevant to disciplines that make up an area of learning.

Visit the Ministry of Education for more information

Additional Resources

First People's Principles of Learning

To read more about First People’s Principles of Learning, please click here.

For classroom resources, please visit the First Nations Education Steering Committee.