The Early Years: Air Is Not Nothingby: Peggy Ashbrook

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Children usually begin to understand that a substance called air is all around us after age three, but they don’t grasp that air is matter until age five, or even older. They may learn that “air is a gas” but have difficulty naming the substance that fills a soap bubble or explaining how a balloon expands, and they don’t understand where a gas released by opening a soda or mixing baking soda and vinegar comes from or where it goes. Yet, amid these ideas, early childhood is rich with opportunities for students to experience a range of gas behaviors; even if they can’t name or explain them. The lesson in this month’s column allows students to experience air’s mass and the force it can exert on objects.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (4)
  • on Mon Aug 29, 2016 5:24 PM

I found this article to be excellent. It was quick and easy to read and understand. I love the activity given to show students was air is and will hopefully use it in my future in teaching science.

Alexis H
Alexis H

  • on Tue May 14, 2013 9:46 AM

This quick article gives some excellent activities to do to help young students experience air. One point the author makes is very important......"Young children won’t yet grasp these concepts, but it is important to provide them with early explorations so they can build a body of experience to recall as they move to deeper understandings in the future."

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

  • on Wed Aug 24, 2011 12:01 PM

Young children perceive air as nothing. The simple activity in this article helps them understand that air is all around us and that a quantity of air can exert a force. Students will gain an understanding that air can move and introducing the states of matter builds vocabulary and supports learning about properties of matter.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Sun Dec 25, 2016 8:36 PM

Good quick read, but most of these I already did with my K-2 classes. Shooting a cotton ball out of a coke bottle though is a great new idea to show that air is really there and moving air can be a force .

Judy Lucadou
Judy Lucadou

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