Next Generation Science Standards: 5-PS1-1

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are used across the United States for what students should learn in science. Standards are organized into Elementary, Middle, and High School, then broken down into areas of science and specific standards that grow through the grades.

Text for 5-PS1-1

The NGSS standard for 5-PS1-1 reads:

“Develop a model to describe that matter is made of particles too small to be seen.”

Next Generation Science StandardsOpens in a new tab.

Explanation of 5-PS1-1

NGSS 5-PS1-1 means it is written for Kindergarten in Reading: Literature. The rest of the numbers refer to the specific lesson it teaches. Some grades have more standards in a subject area while others have fewer; they are inconsistent across all grades and depend on what each grade should learn.

The Next Generation Science Standards determined the standards in collaboration with twenty-six “Lead State Partners,” including the National Research CouncilOpens in a new tab., the National Science Teachers AssociationOpens in a new tab., and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Students should understand that matter consists of particles too small to be seen by the naked eye. They need to understand that the matter that can be seen (such as water) is made up of small particles that cannot be seen (hydrogen, oxygen).

They should be able to describe the relationship between these particles that cannot be seen and the macroscopic observable matter. They should also understand the collection of many particles (balloon expanding).

Connect this model to things you can observe (blowing up a balloon).

Examples for Teaching 5-PS1-1

The core curriculum only says what children should know by the end of each grade, not how they learn it. More details on this are here. Below you will find some examples to explain further 5-PS1-1.

The NGSS website offers a further clarification: “Examples of evidence supporting a model could include adding air to expand a basketball, compressing air in a syringe, dissolving sugar in water, and evaporating salt water…does not include the atomic-scale mechanism of evaporation and condensation or defining the unseen particles.”

For example:

Students should understand that many particles can be combined to make things happen, even if you can’t see them. Some ways you might show this are:

  • expanding balloon
  • blowing up a basketball
  • evaporating liquids
  • substances that dissolve in a solvent
  • effects of wind
  • ice melting

Consider Teaching 5-PS1-1 With Other Standards

One activity can work on many standards and may be a great way to teach students who struggle to learn in conventional ways. You may want to consider teaching this standard alongside the ones listed below since they have some overlapping ideas and principles.

Common Core ELA:

  • 5.RI.7


  • MP.2
  • MP.4
  • 5.NBT.A.1
  • 5.NF.B.7
  • 5.MD.C.3
  • 5.MD.C.4

Resources to Teach 5-PS1-1

We have compiled a list of resources that teach 5-PS1-1. Each one below contains a link to another article that explains the resource further and gives suggestions on the type of learner it might work best for.

There are many types of resources and ways to teach each standard; sometimes, finding an alternative resource that offers a new perspective will make sense to the student in the way other methods haven’t. That is the purpose of this list.

If no resources show below or work for your student, we haven’t added any quite yet. We are always adding more resources, and these lists are continuously growing, so check back!

Happy Atoms

Elementary School

Middle School

High School

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