Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: What Happened?


What Happened? by Rozanne Lanczak Williams, is an excellent book that can be used to introduce students to the three states of matter using water. With bright, eye-catching illustrations by Gwen Connelly, and repetitive text, this book grabs the attention of children. What Happened? teaches children that water can freeze, evaporate, and condense by connecting these science terms to a child’s world. “What happened to the water? It froze. And then I went skating. What happened to the ice? It melted. And then I went swimming.”  It also teaches students that some solids can be dissolved in a liquid. “What happened to the sugar? It dissolved. And then I drank lemonade!”

What Happened? is a great read-aloud to students in kindergarten and first grade. The children will love to answer the questions in the book and at the same time are learning valuable science vocabulary.

Teachers who want to introduce the concept of the different states of matter in their classroom should defnitely consider using the book, What Happened? It can be used in kindergarten classes as well as first and second grades. I think this is a great book to introduce the terms solid, liquid and gas to kindergarteners (VA SOL K.5a).  It also would be a good book to teach first grade students how some solids will dissolve in water (VA SOL 1.3b). In second grade,  students would grasp the processes involved with changes in matter that are introduced in What Happened? (VA SOL 2.3b).

Additional Resources:

  • On the back page of the book, there are 2 activities that can be used to reinforce the topics found in What Happened?
  • Here is a link to many lesson ideas about the states of matter. One of my favorites is using jello in the classroom to demonstarte solid, liquid and gas.
  • The Creative Teaching website has some wonderful practice pages that help teach the science concepts introduced in this book.
  • On Education. com there is a worksheet which helps students in identifying states of matter.

Book: What Happened?
Author: Rozanne Lanczak Williams
Illustrator: Gwen Connelly
Publisher: Creative Teaching Press
Publication Date: 1994
Pages: 16
Grade Range: K-2
ISBN: 0916119475

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