Free plan and resources for a 2 week science lesson for pupils with autism – The coloured ice and oil experiment!

Here is a fun science lesson I recently put together and taught during our term theme on colours. The pupils in my class all have a diagnosis of autism and severe learning difficulties and are working around P levels (UK assessment) P4 – P8. This would also be great for an early years science lesson.

The coloured ice and oil experiment!

coloured ice and oil

Resources needed

  • coloured ice cubes (water with food colouring),
  • vegetable oil,
  • salt shaker,
  • water,
  • 1 tray or plate per pupil (clear or white to show the colours from the ice cubes)
  • pencils
  • scissors
  • glue sticks

making coloured ice

Extension activity/ second week progression lesson:
  • salt shaker
  • water
  • materials to explore ice with such as paint brushes and sponges
Resources downloadable on this page:

Plan

Starter:

PowerPoint lesson starter to show the pupils what they will be going to do.
Download PowerPoint lesson starter

Main:

Teacher demonstrate putting oil on the tray or plate and then taking 2-3 coloured ice cubes out of the ice tray and place onto the oil. Model observing and feeling changes in the ice whilst saying and signing key words such as the colours. Watch as the colours run into the oil. Ask questions if appropriate. Hand out 1 tray or plate per pupil and each pupil to take 2-3 ice cubes and observe and feel the changes in the ice.

Extension activity/ second week lesson:

Teacher to demonstrate pouring salt or water over the ice and using the materials provided such as sponges or paint brushes to explore the melting of the ice cubes. Pupils to use the materials themselves and experiment with the coloured ice, oil, salt and water. Discuss or identify key words/ signs as appropriate for the level of the pupils.

Plenary:

Teacher model completing a worksheet related to the experiment. They are all cutting and sticking activity sheets based on the experiment aimed to cement learning and provide a basis for naming and signing key words as well as to aid discussion if appropriate. The first page is the one to be cut and the second is to be stuck onto.

Download Group 1 worksheet (P4 – P5): cut and match photo of experiment

Download Group 2 worksheet (P6): cut and match 4 colours to colours with photo of experiment

Download Group 3 worksheet (P7-P8): match colour symbols to coloured ice cubes or write the names of colours with a photo of the experiment

Learning Objectives

Group 1:

  • Observe and explore coloured ice cubes melting on oil.

Group 2:

  • Experiment with coloured ice cubes on oil
  • Name and/or sign 1 colour

Group 3:

  • Experiment with coloured ice cubes and predict what will happen to the ice cubes.
  • Name and/or sign 2 or more colours

Key Vocabulary:

colour, yellow, green, blue, red, ice, water, oil, melt, cold, wet,

Enjoy! I’d love to hear if you use the lesson ideas and resources or if you would be interested in further lesson plans and resources!

How to structure a lesson or activity for pupils with autism

Structuring a lesson or activity by breaking it down into small parts with visual prompts can make the lesson/ activity manageable for autistic children because it enables the pupils to know what they will be doing now, next and when the activity is coming to an end. Here is an example of visual symbols used in a physical education lesson.

visual symbols for p.e.

At the beginning of the lesson, I would say “what’s first?” and take the first symbol to show all the children individually so they can say, sign, read or point to the symbol. In this case it is ‘warm up’ so we would then do the warm up. When the warm up is finishing, I would count down from 5 and say “warm up has finished”. In a P.E. lesson I usually ask the children to “sit on the bench” before referring them to the visual symbols and removing the warm up symbol whilst again saying “warm up has finished”. I would then say “whats next?” and again individually show the children the next symbol. This process is repeated for each small activity of the lesson. This gives a clear structure and routine to the lesson which the children learn and can feel comfortable with. When it is time for ‘cool down’, the children can clearly see the lesson is coming to an end as there is only 1 symbol left.

Here is a similar example of how I’ve structured a music lesson using a similar routine. I have used the SCERTS model (green and red board- green for what is coming up and red for finished).

visual symbols for music lesson

 

There is a similar pattern with how I’ve structured this lesson. The lesson is broken down into smaller activities and each has a visual symbol to show the children what is next. When an activity has finished, I move it to the red finished area and say “what’s next?” before showing all of the children individually the next activity for them to say, sign, read or point to.

Don’t forget this structure can benefit all children and can make mainstream activities more inclusive by enabling the children that can understand symbols to know what is happening next and how many activities to go before the session is finishing. This type of structure could also be used with photos for children who understand photos but perhaps not symbols, objects of reference for children at that level and words for more able children who are confident at reading.

Also, do remember that a symbol programme like the one I have used to make symbols is also not necessary. Symbols like these can be replaced by pictures simply found on the internet, photos you have taken or by simply drawing a picture!