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Substances vs Mixtures Sorting Activity

We’re making slow but sure progress in chemistry. A few weeks ago, it came time to learn to classify matter. While looking through my reference textbooks for ideas, I ran across an idea in the teacher’s edition of Prentice Hall Chemistry to demonstrate to students how to identify substances vs mixtures. .

Here’s the idea in original form:

Substances vs Mixtures Sorting Activity for Chemistry or Physical Science
Source: Prentice Hall Chemistry (Teacher’s Edition) Page 50

 Instead of writing the words on index cards, I decided to type them.

Substances vs Mixtures Sorting Activity for Chemistry or Physical Science
Substances vs Mixtures Sorting Activity for Chemistry or Physical Science
Substances vs Mixtures Sorting Activity for Chemistry or Physical Science
Substances vs Mixtures Sorting Activity for Chemistry or Physical Science
Substances vs Mixtures Sorting Activity for Chemistry or Physical Science

I also made an answer key for the substances vs mixtures sorting activity so I could keep up with which words belonged in which column more easily.

Substances vs Mixtures Sorting Activity for Chemistry or Physical Science

I didn’t exactly follow the instructions as exactly as printed in the teacher’s edition. I had two volunteers tape up 1 and 2 under Category A and 3 and 4 under Category B. When the class couldn’t decide on the categories, we taped up 5-8.

After more discussion, we taped up a few more. My students still couldn’t quite put their finger on what to name the two categories, but they did seem to have an idea of what types of things would belong in each category. So, instead of telling the volunteers what category to place their cards in, I had the volunteers hold up their cards to the class. The class had to decide which category each card belonged in.

Substances vs Mixtures Sorting Activity for Chemistry or Physical Science

As they made their guesses, I verified using my trusty answer key and clipboard!

Here’s what our end product of the substances vs mixtures sorting activity looked like:

Substances vs Mixtures Sorting Activity for Chemistry or Physical Science

My students were able to identify that Category A only contained elements and compounds. However, they didn’t know that these two categories formed a larger category known as substances.  Category B had them puzzled, though. They could pick out what belonged there, but they couldn’t give it a name. Looking at particle diagrams of elements/compounds/mixtures helped make it much clearer later in the unit.