Theme: Farm to Preschool

Let's Make Butter


Objective: Children will investigate characteristics of liquids and solids, and experiment with changing states—turning a liquid into a solid.

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What You Will Need

  • Cups of various liquid foods such as water, milk, juice
  • Plates with examples of solid foods such as crackers, bread
  • Clean, empty plastic jars with lids – 1 per child
  • Heavy cream – ¼ cup per child
  • Salt – 1 dash per jar
  • Measuring cups – 1 per 4 children
  • Plastic spoons – 1 per child
  • Paper plates – 1 per child
  • Crackers

What To Do

  1. Display the liquids, and discuss the characteristics of a liquid (see Did You Know?).
  2. Display the solids, and discuss the characteristics of solids (see Did You Know?).
  3. Compare the liquids and the solids (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
  4. Tell the children that they will be making butter, which is a product that begins as a liquid but can be turned into a solid.
  5. Distribute the jars. Help the children to measure ¼ cup of heavy cream and pour it into their jar.
  6. Add a dash of salt, and firmly seal the lids.
  7. Tell the children that they will need to shake the jars until the cream becomes solid.
  8. Once the butter forms, help the children drain off the liquid, and ask what happened to the liquid (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
  9. Use the butter immediately by allowing the children to use the knives to spread it on crackers and enjoy it as a snack.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Describe the liquids – What is the same about them?
  • Describe the solids – What is the same about them?
  • Explain how the liquids are different from the solids.
  • Describe what you did to turn the cream into butter.
  • Explain the differences between the cream and the butter.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Have the children brainstorm about some foods that they eat with butter on them. Chart their responses, then create a bar graph of the children’s favorite foods.
  • Place empty butter containers in the kitchen area with plastic knives and plates. The children can pretend to prepare foods served with butter on them.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children describe similarities of liquids?
  • Could children describe similarities of solids?
  • Could children explain that all liquids can pour but solids cannot?
  • Could children explain that the shaking was what caused the cream to turn into butter?
  • Could children describe the cream as a liquid and the butter as a solid?

Did You Know?

Liquids and solids are two forms of matter. Matter can also be a gas. Everything on Earth is a form of matter. Liquids do not hold their shape and can be poured. Solids hold their shape and cannot be poured. Some solids can be melted to become a liquid. For example, ice is a solid but becomes a liquid once melted. Some liquids can be changed into a solid. For instance, when cream is churned, it becomes a solid—butter.

Butter is usually made by a process called churning. The cream from milk is placed in a cylindrical shaped container and vigorously beaten until it thickens into butter. Any liquid remaining in the cylinder is poured off. The butter is mixed and blended, and sometimes salt is added. Next, it is cut, wrapped, and chilled. Butter is refrigerated to maintain freshness. 

Did You Know?

Liquids and solids are two forms of matter. Matter can also be a gas. Everything on Earth is a form of matter. Liquids do not hold their shape and can be poured. Solids hold their shape and cannot be poured. Some solids can be melted to become a liquid. For example, ice is a solid but becomes a liquid once melted. Some liquids can be changed into a solid. For instance, when cream is churned, it becomes a solid—butter.

Learn More

Vocabulary

  • characteristic – something that makes one thing different from another.
  • liquid – a form of matter that can flow, is not a solid or a gas, and takes the shape of its container.
  • solid – something having a firm shape or form that can be measured in length, width, and height.
  • butter – a solid yellow fat made from milk.
  • cream – the thick part of whole milk that contains fat.
  • shake – to move something from side to side or up and down with quick, short movements.

Vocabulary

  • characteristic
  • liquid
  • solid
  • butter
  • cream
  • shake

Child-Friendly Definitions

Lesson Tips

  • To make the activity more fun, you can play some lively music as the children are shaking their jars.
  • The shaking takes a long time (about 15 minutes of vigorous shaking). The cream will increase in volume before it becomes butter. Marking the outside of the jar before shaking can help children see how the cream expands in the jar before it changes to a solid.
  • Butter can also be made using a blender or hand mixer. Blend or mix the butter until the solids come to the top and the liquid is at the bottom of the container. Pour off the liquid, and press the solids into a ball. Drain again, and use immediately.

Books

  • Solid, Liquid, or Gas? (Rookie Read-About Science) by Fay Robinson
  • Cows on the Farm (Farm Animals) by Rose Carraway
  • Milk From Cow to Carton (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Book) by Aliki
  • The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss

Common Core State
Standards Initiative

These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge.[2]

Visit the CCSS website

Important Legal Disclosures & Information

  1. While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed. 

  2. There are currently no Common Core Standards for pre-k, but these lessons are aligned as closely as possible to capture the requirements and meet the goals of Common Core Standards. However, these lessons were neither reviewed or approved by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices or the Council of Chief State School Officers, which together are the owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.