Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Mind over Matter

Laurie Ayers
Bay District Schools


Mind Over Matter is for Day 2 of the unit [Inventions and Inventors]. Students use their minds to create new devices out of everyday objects (matter). An introduction to unit vocabulary words and their meanings follows.


The student writes for a variety of occasions, audiences, and purposes (for example, letters to invite or thank, stories or poems to entertain, information to record).

The student knows selected significant people and the impact of their achievements in world in the fields of communication and technology since the Renaissance.


-[Mistakes that Worked] by Charlotte Foltz Jones, New York: Doubleday, c1991, ISBN: 0385320434.
-[Inventions] by Jennifer Osborne, New York: Newbridge Educational Publishing, LLC, c1999, ISBN 1-58273-117-9. (
-Popsicles™, one for the teacher and one for each student
-Paper towels or wet wipes, one per student
-Dry erase board, chalkboard, or chart paper to record student responses
-Writing implement to record student responses
-Pencils, one per student
-Paper sandwich bags with a variety of everyday objects such as straws, plastic bottle caps, rubber bands, envelopes, wooden dowels or paint sticks, etc., one per group of students
-Vocabulary Words and Meanings (see extensions)
-Sunshine State Standards for the unit (see extensions)
-Big Word Wall or other designated space to display Vocabulary Words and Meanings
-Inventions and Inventors Journal Cover, one per student (see associated file)
-Blank copy paper (8½” x 11”) for journals, two pieces per student, folded in half along 11” side
-Unit Writing Checklist (see extensions), one copy
-Student Web Lesson [Max and Mavis and the Case of the Missing Inventors, Part 1: Communication]


1. Administer the Diagnostic Assessment prior to this lesson.
2. Visit and evaluate the suggested Weblinks and bookmark those that you think your students will use during the unit.
3. Determine a way of dividing students into small groups.
4. Collect everyday items (such as paper clips, rubber bands, index cards, straws, plastic spoons or forks, plastic lids from spray containers, paper towel tubes, a little play dough, paper plates, Velcro spots, etc.) for paper sandwich bags and put them in the bags.
5. Gather other materials for the lesson.
6. Download and make a copy of Vocabulary Words and Meanings. Optional: Glue the vocabulary words and meanings onto construction paper and laminate them to increase durability.
7. Download and make a copy of the unit standards. Optional: Glue the standards onto construction paper and then laminate them.
8. Download and make copies of the Journal Cover (see associated file), one per student.
9. Establish a Big Word Wall, bulletin board, or display area for Vocabulary Words and Meanings.
10. Download and make a copy of the Unit Writing Checklist in the Unit Attachment (see extensions). Add student names to the checklist.
11. Make arrangements with the school media specialist for your students to conduct research in the media center on Day 5.
12. Preview and bookmark the Student Web Lesson Max and Mavis and the Case of the Missing Inventors, Part 1: Communication (see Weblinks) on classroom computers so students can begin working in pairs to complete the lesson.


Note: The Diagnostic Assessment (see extensions) for the unit [Inventions and Inventors] should be administered prior to beginning this lesson. Also, this lesson provides background instruction with vocabulary used throughout the unit.

1. Walk to the front of the classroom eating a Popsicle™.

2. Allow time for students to respond.

3. Ask students if they know that sometimes things are invented or created by mistake.

4. Explain that the Popsicle™ is one such invention.

5. Read the history of the Popsicle™ from [Mistakes that Worked] by Charlotte Foltz Jones.

6. Share that students will receive a Popsicle™ at the end of the lesson, but right now you want to introduce a new unit. The unit is titled [Inventions and Inventors].

7. Identify and discuss the standards for the unit (see extensions) and post them in the classroom.

8. Ask students for input as to what the words invent, invention, and inventor mean.

9. Record student responses on the board or chart paper. Guide discussion and provide formative feedback. For example, “Great job, Mark. An invention could be something someone creates.” Make sure you address any student misconceptions about inventions and inventors. For example, “I’m not sure all inventions are products. What do you think? Could a new idea about how to do something also be an invention?”

10. Introduce the Vocabulary Words and Meanings (see extensions).
Note: An excellent resource for vocabulary strategies is the Just Read Now site at

11. Point out that for the purpose of this unit the class will explore inventions in the fields of communication and technology and scientific discoveries that have helped or hindered human health and lifestyles.

12. Read [Inventions], a big book, by Jennifer Osborne.

13. Discuss the book, making sure to cover the following topics:
· Inventors are creative thinkers and problem solvers.
· Most inventions are motivated by a need. Some are by mistake.
· Inventors observe the world and make connections that others might not see.

14. Tell students that today they will get an opportunity to be inventors.

15. Divide students into small groups.

16. Distribute one bag with everyday objects to each group.

17. Ask students to carefully empty the contents of their bags.

18. Allow five to ten minutes for students to examine the objects and try to think like inventors. Students are to problem solve and think of a way the objects could be connected to make something useful.

19. Each group has twenty minutes to work together and create a new useful product from the everyday objects. Note: The teacher may designate other classroom objects the students may use if he/she chooses.

20. After creating a useful object from the contents of the bag, each group then decides upon a name for the invention and prepares to tell how that invention could be used.

21. When all groups have completed the activity, each group orally shares the invention, its name, and its use. Note: The teacher might choose to allow the class to vote on the one invention they think is best and give that group an award.

22. Lead the class in reviewing the vocabulary words and meanings by reciting a meaning and having students identify the word that goes with the meaning. Provide formative feedback and correct any misconceptions.

23. Ask student volunteers to place the Vocabulary Words and Meanings (from associated file) on the Big Word Wall or other designated display area.

24. Explain that it seems the students really enjoyed creating their inventions. Sometimes when people have enjoyable experiences they like to write about them.

25. Point out one way people do this is by writing journals.

26. Show examples of journals (see Bibliography in associated file).

27. Tell students that throughout this unit they will have opportunities to record their ideas, feelings, and actions. They will have an Inventions and Inventors Journal.

28. Distribute copies of the Inventions and Inventors Journal covers (see associated file) and extra blank paper (4-5 sheets) to students.

29. Demonstrate how to fold the blank paper and insert it into the folded cover. Staple on the left side.

30. Allow time for students to construct their journals.

31. Distribute Popsicles™ and paper towels to students.

32. While enjoying Popsicles™, students write a journal entry for Day 2 to reflect upon their inventing activity. Daily Journal Prompts can be located in the Unit Attachment (see extensions).

33. Encourage students to refer to the Big Word Wall to use the introduced vocabulary words in their journal entries.

34. Formatively assess journal entries using the Unit Writing Checklist in the Unit Attachment (see extensions). Provide formative feedback to students about journal entries. Feedback should be both positive (I’m glad you enjoyed being an inventor.) and guiding (Remember, an inventor creates something new.).

35. Students begin working in pairs to complete the Student Web Lesson [Max and Mavis and the Case of the Missing Inventors, Part 1: Communication] (see Weblinks). To facilitate learning, it is suggested that the teacher pair an accomplished reader with an emerging reader. This Web Lesson may also be used with the whole group as a means of review.


Use the vocabulary review activity and journal entries to formatively assess student understanding of vocabulary words which will lead to an understanding of the unit standards. Provide positive and guiding feedback and clarify any misconceptions. Positive feedback might include, “Yes, you experimented with the objects in your bag to create a new hat holder. An invention is something new that comes from ideas and experiments.” Guiding feedback might include, “Think about your invention. What problem solving steps did you take to invent it?”

Use the Unit Writing Checklist in the Unit Attachment (see extensions) to formatively assess student participation in writing for a variety of purposes and daily journal entries. Assess journal entries for evidence of students using the introduced vocabulary words and for personal reflection about the inventing activity.


1. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: http://www.beaconlearning Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, “Associated Files.” This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).
2. The Student Web Lesson [Max and Mavis and the Case of the Missing Inventors, Part 1: Communication] may be viewed by the whole class on a large screen monitor as a means of review.
3. Note: Since students work and learn at different rates, the time suggested for this lesson is just that—a suggestion. Feel free to take additional time to explore, enhance, or re-teach the concepts presented. Take as much time as necessary to make sure students will succeed on the formative assessment in the lesson, as well as the summative assessment for the unit.
4. Note: For an optional activity, have students reflect orally before writing. Students have the opportunity to think aloud about the pros and cons of their activity and their group. Discussion should include what went well and what didn’t. Reinforce that inventors and scientists go through the same process—coming up with an idea, problem solving, explaining it to someone else, etc.
5. Note: Throughout the unit, students do write for a variety of occasions and reasons, therefore the need for writing for a variety of occasions is met by the end of the unit.

Web Links

Web supplement for Mind Over Matter
Invention Hall of Fame

Web supplement for Mind Over Matter
Inventors Museum

Web supplement for Mind Over Matter
Discovery Schools: Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Educators – History and Social Studies

Web supplement for Mind Over Matter
Spotlight Biographies: Inventors

Web supplement for Mind Over Matter
American Experience: Way Back, U. S. History for Kids: Technology in 1900

Web supplement for Mind Over Matter
Inventor of the Week Archives

Web supplement for Mind Over Matter
Just Read Now

A museum is broken into and the thief mismatches pictures of inventions and inventors. Students are asked to help solve the mystery while learning about significant inventions and inventors in the field of communication since the Renaissance.
Max and Mavis and the Case of the Missing Inventors, Part 1: Communication

Unit Plan
Inventions and Inventors

Attached Files

An Inventions and Inventors Journal Cover.     File Extension: pdf

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