I spy materials

‘I Spy Materials’ is great fun for younger children and helps reinforce the vocabulary used in describing the properties of materials.
The rules can be as simple or as advanced as you wish and there’s even a points scoring version.

26feb06 004 w

This picture shows a box of materials samples - there really should be some fibres and fabrics samples included as well as stone/ceramics.

The game is best played after pupils have had the chance to build up their materials vocabulary and they should have met most of the following words and discussed their meaning:

rough  smooth   shiny   dull  stretchy   bendy  rigid  hard   soft  transparent  translucent  opaque

‘heavy or lightweight’   ‘cold to the touch’   ‘warm to the touch’   ‘make a clanking sound when struck’

The colours and shapes of materials are not really useful here but are helpful to very young children sometimes.

‘Heavy’ and ‘light’ can cause confusion at times because children may forget to compare equal sizes of materials. It may be best to encourage children to say ‘a small amount of it is quite heavy’ when describing most metals - note Aluminium is an exception to this rule and special cases are good things for the more able to include in the game.

‘Warm’ and ‘cold’ are also confusing at times. Metals are very good conductors of heat and they feel much colder to the touch than other materials - even stone and glass - but they soon warm up in our hands and don’t feel cold anymore! If a pupil has just touched a bar of metal and felt a cold sensation then a piece of plastic or fabric feels warm! If you keep your hand on some fabric or foam rubber for a short while it feels warm because it is a good insulator and prevents your fingers from losing heat so they warm up!

The basic game (level 1)

One pupil looks at the materials but doesn’t touch. He/she then gives the whole class a clue which is a describing word or ‘property’ of the chosen material.

eg. I spy with my little eye a material which is ‘smooth’

The whole class look at their materials samples and, if they are working in groups, discuss which material it could be then hold up the one they think it is.
The answer is then given and we find out who is correct and the next person is chosen.

The ‘guesswork element’ is at play of course but the game is still fun.

Level 2

As above but more than one person or group may be holding up the correct material so a second clue is given about the material eg. shiny and so on.

Level 3


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