Air is matter

A classic activity to show that air is matter and takes up space is to tuck a piece of tissue into a small clear jar, up end the jar and lower it into a larger container of water. When the small jar is pulled out (still upside down), children are often surprised that the tissue is dry.

The range in development in preschool students is typically broad, with some of my 4-year-old students surprised because they expected the tissue to be soaking wet, and others unable to duplicate the position of the jar because they didn’t notice that it was upside down when I demonstrated it. Children of all ages love to play with water and air.

Please note a correction to my word choice in the December Early Years column: air is matter, not a single substance—it is a mixture of substances—so I should have written that air is matter. Thanks to Myrna Klotzkin for catching this incorrect usage of a scientific term!

What kinds of activities, or experiments, do you do with your preK through second grade classes to explore the nature of air?


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