K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • discover that air is everywhere
  • discover that air takes up space

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

30 minutes


  • Book: Air is All Around You by Franklyn M. Branley
  • 7×10 plastic storage bags
  • Dishpan-size tub of water
  • Clear plastic cup
  • Newspapers
  • Towels


Discussion about air

  • Where is air?
  • Is air outside?
  • Is air inside?
  • Is air in our room?

Teacher Demonstration

  1. Teacher traps air inside plastic bag in front of group.
  2. Teacher asks, “Can we see the air in the bag? How do we know it is in the bag?” (Air is taking up space.)
  3. Teacher asks, “Do you think there is air inside the Housekeeping Center?” Send a child to trap air in a plastic bag in the Housekeeping Center, and other areas in the room. Show class the air bags.
  4. Read Air is All Around You by Franklin M. Branley aloud to the class
  5. Show class the plastic cup. Teacher asks, “Do you think air is in this cup?” “Does air take up space?” “Let’s find out if the air in this cup is taking up space.”

Science Experiment

  1. Put water in tub.
  2. Crush a piece of newspaper and push it to the bottom of the clear plastic cup.
  3. Turn cup upside down and push it to the bottom of the tub.
  4. Pull cup straight up and pull out the newspaper.
  5. Observe whether paper is wet or dry. Conclusion: The paper stayed dry because air took up space and did not let water enter the cup.


  • Students’ verbal answers to questions “Where is air?” and “Does air take up space?”
  • Students’ descriptions of observation of science experiment.

Supplemental information


Following the Whole Group Lesson and demonstration of the science experiment, the tub of water, pieces of newspaper, plastic cup, and towels are placed at the Science Table for individuals to experiment with at Center Time. Also, small plastic bags may be left at the Science Center for students to trap air inside.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Science (2010)
      • Kindergarten

        • K.P.2 Understand how objects are described based on their physical properties and how they are used. K.P.2.1 Classify objects by observable physical properties (including size, color, shape, texture, weight and flexibility). K.P.2.2 Compare the observable...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Science (2005)


  • Goal 3: The learner will make observations and build an understanding of the properties of common objects.
    • Objective 3.01: Observe and describe the properties of different kinds of objects (clay, wood, cloth, paper, other) and how they are used.
    • Objective 3.03: Describe how objects look, feel, smell, taste, and sound using their own senses.