Elements Introduction to Chemistry Curriculum
Every once in a while, you come across a product that you wish you could have had when you were growing up, and those were exactly my feelings when I reviewed Ellen Johnston McHenry's introductory chemistry course. Geared for the upper elementary to junior-high age students, it introduces chemistry gently, comparing the elements, the ingredients of our world to common kitchen ingredients we use everyday to make many very different baked goods. The analogy kicks off the first chapter, where they learn about the more common elements such as carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, analogous to flour, sugar, and salt, which are used in nearly everything we bake. More uncommon elements such as berylium, gallium, and selenium are compared to fruit, spices, and other add-ins that you might only use in special recipes. The periodic table is then introduced, in the more simplified (and less intimidating) format of the "Kitchen Cupboard of the Universe). The basic concepts of chemistry are introduced in each chapter, in a very simple, understandable format, and avoids bogging them down with details that will be covered (much more exhaustively!) in high school or college. The approach appears to work well, with protons, neutrons, electrons, the electron cloud model, orbitals, bonding, spin, and more covered in just the very first few chapters. Fun and interactive activities are featured at the end of each chapter, to review and reinforce what was covered in the chapter, before moving further on. The activities are a good mix of hands-on experiments, and model-making, puzzles, fill-in-the-blanks, and of course short answer to write electron configurations, Lewis diagrams, chemical compounds and more. The hands-on activities have been well-chosen and illustrate well the concepts that have been learned. Constructing balloon electron cloud models and edible chemical compounds, creating carbon dioxide bubbles, and electolysis are several examples. Several songs are included, for those who are more auditorily oriented. Several more involved activities include making periodic-table pillowcases to play a game on, creating your own "collect-'em-all" chemical elements card deck, and performing several short skits on the discovery of several of the more common elements of the periodic table. Students are also challenged by the author to memorize as much of the periodic table as they can, to help make life easier when they revisit the subject (as well as impress their relatives at get-togethers). At only 78 pages of lessons, this is a fairly brief, but effective introduction to chemistry that could be easily worked into the academic year with any style of curriculum being used. Patterns, outlines, activity sheets, experiments, games, skits and more are included in the Teacher's Section in back half of the book activity packet. And, to make things easier on Mom, most of the materials are easily found, either around the home, or at your local Wal-Mart. (No poring over science supply catalogs trying to decide how many moles of a chemical to order!) A CD is no longer included with the book - instruction is given in the text to stream the songs from the publisher's website and prescreened youtube videos are referenced for additional information.
All in all, this is a very well-done introduction to the basics of chemistry, and whatever your students take with them from this course will be well applied to more advanced chemistry, making their journey into more advanced chemistry all the more manageable. Plus, I think students will definitely be impressed with themselves for being able to complete some college-level chemistry by Chapter 3 of the book! Personally, my first real experience with chemistry was my senior year of high school, followed by the four semesters of chemistry required by my major, and I think both high school chemistry as well as introductory college chemistry would have been much easier to understand had I had some experience with these concepts at an earlier age. - Jess
Target age group: 8-14
Description: A basic introduction to the fundamental concepts of chemistry (see "Topics covered" below) but with the interest level of the text and activities geared to students who still like to play while they learn. The student text combines very "meaty" content with whimsical humor, and the teacher's section has lots of activities, games, songs, crafts, etc. All of these activities provide high-quality learning they are not "fluff." The overall theme of the curriculum is cooking and recipes, using cooking to explain chemistry concepts. The curriculum is intended to prepare students for high school chemistry.
Topics covered: The definition of an element, the structure of an atom, the invention of the Periodic Table by Mendeleyev, chemical formulas, electron orbitals and shells, the octet rule, arrangement of elements on the Periodic Table, atomic bonding (covalent, ionic and metallic), plus an up-close look at the families on the table: alkali metals, alkali earth metals, transition metals, true metals, non-metals, halogens, noble gases, and lanthanides and actinides.
Activities included: "Symbol Jar" game, "Elements Fishing" game, "Make Five" game, "Quick Six" game, "Chemical Compounds Song", "The Bonding Song", Periodic Table jump rope rhyme, Periodic Table pillowcase craft project, skits about the discoveries of some of the elements, lab experiments, building models of atoms, Element trading cards art project, and links to sites on the Internet where you can play games about the elements or see dangerous experiments that you could not do at home. NOTE: Some of these activities, such as the Periodic Table game, are available for free download on this site, so you can do further previewing by checking out the chemistry section of the free downloads page.
Student text booklet: 70 pages divided into 8 chapters. The text is kid-friendly without being patronizing. (They'll love the Atomic Chef!) It contains all the information they need to know, so there is no extra teaching required by the adult administering the program. The parent/teacher can learn along with the student. No previous knowledge of chemistry is required! This booklet also has pencil and paper activities such as word puzzles, as well as suggestions for activities the student can do at home, including a YouTube playlist created [by me] for this curriculum, and also safe websites they can visit.
Time requirement: This curriculum takes 6-9 weeks depending on how many hours a week you put in, how many times you play the games, how much time you spend on the crafts and skits, and how many of the "extras" you decide to do. When my homeschool co-op runs this class, we have 7 class periods (once a week for 7 weeks) that last 3 hours each time. We expect the students to do all the reading and pencil and paper activities and some of the online activities at home. We do all the games and group activities in class. Some of the kids don't get to spend as much time on activities (such as trading cards) as they would like, but we encourage them to keep working at home. If we don't have time to perform the skits, we just read them out loud as "reader's theater." Since we have Internet access and a video projector at our rented facility, we show some of the video clips in class for the benefit of the kids who don't have Internet access. The teachers prepare all the games ahead of time so no assembly has to be done in class. If you are doing this curriculum just at your home, you can set your own pace and take as long as you like.
1. What is an Element?
2. The Periodic Table
4. More About Atoms
5. Meet the Alkali and Halogen Families
6. The Noble Gases and Non-Metals
7. Metals: Semi-, Pure and Transition
8. The Lanthanides and Actinides
There is a large section at the back for various games, crafts, experiments, even skits. We did all the activities and spent about a week on each chapter.
over 5 years ago
over 5 years ago