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Teaching Chemistry to Young Children

Updated on December 31, 2014
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I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 8.

Are you in search of great resources for piquing your students' or children's interest in chemistry? Below you will find our favorite resources for teaching chemistry to elementary-aged children in a fun, engaging, and memorable manner! I have included excellent picture books, YouTube clips, links to lapbook pages and lessons, and activities to teach on atoms, the periodic table of elements, chemical reactions, states of matter, and Marie Curie.

Atoms

Creating s & p orbitals using balloons, which is one of the many fun activities from Ellen McHenry's Elements Chemistry Unit

Picture Books on Atoms & Molecules

Eddie the Electron
Eddie the Electron

I love using picture books to teach because it allows for children of all ages to enjoy and learn about what can sometimes be more complex subjects such as chemistry. Even my three year old was able to grasp the basics of atoms and molecules after we read through some of these books. Also look for "The Adventures of Adam the Atom" by Casey Waid, "Ghosts and Atoms" (Graphic Library: Monster Science) by Jodi Lyn Wheeler-Toppen, "What's Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew?" by Robert E. Wells, "Molecules and Atoms" (Let's Explore Our World) by Rae Bains, "Molly and Wally Molecule" by Dean Badillo, and "If I Met a Molecule" by Noel Wilson.

 

Atom & Molecule Picture Books for Your Kindle

These are some excellent picture books on chemistry that can be accessed using your Kindle.

The Lonely Electron: A Story about Atoms, Electrons, and Making Friends
The Lonely Electron: A Story about Atoms, Electrons, and Making Friends

Also look for "The Atom Family" by Gale Trumbeaux, "Atoms and Molecules - A Child's Guide to Chemistry" by Adam W. Smith, "Adventures of the Teddy Bear Molecule" by Gale Trumbeaux, and "Land of the Quarks" by Gale Trumbeaux.

 

Our Favorite YouTube Clips on Atoms & Molecules

Uncertain location of electrons

What is the shape of a molecule?

Atoms and Molecules - Basics

The Nucleus: Crash Course Chemistry

The Electron: Crash Course Chemistry

Periodic Table of Elements

Playing the Periodic Table of Elements Board Game, which is one of the many fun activities from Ellen McHenry's Elements Chemistry Unit

Children's Books on the Periodic Table or on Elements

Also look for "Story of Salt" by Mark Kurlansky, which is a picture book that covers the history and features of salt in a fascinating manner!


Children's Books on the Periodic Table or on Elements

The Periodic Table: Elements with Style! by Simon Basher
The Periodic Table: Elements with Style! by Simon Basher

This is a cute book that focuses on individual elements. Each element is represented by a cartoon character and they describe themselves.

 
The Mystery of the Periodic Table (Living History Library)
The Mystery of the Periodic Table (Living History Library)

This is a chapter book with occasional illustrations that covers the history of how elements were discovered and how the periodic table was formed. My children (ages 5-10) enjoyed this book.

 

Fun Periodic Table Toys & Games

My children absolutely love playing games, and I love it when they actually learn something from the games they play! The great thing about these board games is that your children will continue to review the periodic table of elements over and over again every time they play these games. They are so much fun, and your children will learn quite a bit in the process! Also look for Uncle Goose Periodic Table Building Blocks, which are fun to use for both younger and older children.

Elementeo Chemistry Card Game (2nd Edition) - Create Compounds, Win Electrons, and Explore the Periodic Table. Learning Game for Kids, Featured on PBS, Scholastic, and Imagine.
Elementeo Chemistry Card Game (2nd Edition) - Create Compounds, Win Electrons, and Explore the Periodic Table. Learning Game for Kids, Featured on PBS, Scholastic, and Imagine.

My oldest 2 sons, ages 7 and 11, LOVE this fun board game! Each card has an element with the periodic table of elements information on it along with a description of how it interacts with other elements (i.e. rusts metals). Each player lays down element or compound cards to interact with the other player's cards. There are 5 levels, so the game can change and become more complex as your children play the game more often. My father, who is a chemistry professor, was actually impressed by this game!

 

Our Favorite YouTube Clips on Elements & The Periodic Table

The Periodic Table Song (In Order)

Meet the Elements by They Might Be Giants

LMN's Chemistry Adventure Cartoons for Kids

The Elements Book

The Periodic Table: Crash Course Chemistry

Building NaCl molecules, which is one of the many fun activities from Ellen McHenry's Elements Chemistry Unit

Chemical Bonds & Reactions

The "Magic" Disappearing Red Reaction, which is one of the many fun activities from Ellen McHenry's Elements Chemistry Unit

Excellent Picture Books on Chemical Reactions

The Dynamic World of Chemical Reactions with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The Dynamic World of Chemical Reactions with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)

My children LOVE this series that covers upper level science topics in a comic book (graphic) format that grabs their attention. This covers chemical reactions and presents the material in fun manner.

 
The Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake: A Book About Kitchen Chemistry
The Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake: A Book About Kitchen Chemistry

This is a bit more basic, but my children still enjoyed reading about the Magic School Bus getting baked into a cake and learning about kitchen chemistry (vinegar, baking soda, etc.) in the process.

 

Fun All-in-One Chemistry Kits

I know a number of my friends just want a boxed set that includes everything you need to do all the experiments. There are plenty of great ones out there for chemistry! The Magic School Bus one is best for preschool, kindergarten, or lower elementary aged children. The Thames and Kosmos Chemistry set is a bit more advanced and would be good for upper elementary or middle school aged children. Also look for the fun (and tasty) Candy Chemistry set and the Science Wiz - Chemistry Plus Experiment Kit!

The Magic School Bus Chemistry Lab
The Magic School Bus Chemistry Lab

This set is better for preschool and early elementary aged children.

 
Thames and Kosmos Chemistry Chem C500
Thames and Kosmos Chemistry Chem C500

This set is better for middle and upper elementary aged children.

 

Our Favorite YouTube Video Clips on Chemical Reactions & Chemical Bonds

Bill Nye the Science Guy on Chemical Reactions

Dogs Teaching Chemistry - Chemical Bonds

How atoms bond

Water and Solutions - for Dirty Laundry by Crash Course Chemistry

Acid-base reactions in solution by Crash Course Chemistry

Precipitation reactions by Crash Course Chemistry

Redox reactions by Crash Course Chemistry

States of Matter

Observing the 3 states of matter

Our Favorite Picture Books on States of Matter

The Solid Truth about States of Matter with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The Solid Truth about States of Matter with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)

Also look for "What's the Matter in Mr. Whiskers' Room?" by Michael Elsohn Ross, "What Is the World Made Of? All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases" (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 2) by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld, "Matter: See It, Touch It, Taste It, Smell It" (Amazing Science) by Darlene R. Stille, and "Change It!: Solids, Liquids, Gases and You" (Primary Physical Science) by Adrienne Mason.

 

Our Favorite YouTube Clips on States of Matter

The ideal gas law by Crash Course Chemistry

Ideal gas problems by Crash Course Chemistry

Real gases by Crash Course Chemistry

Partial pressures and vapor pressure by Crash Course Chemistry

Passing gasses by Crash Course Chemistry

Marie Curie

Our Favorite Picture Books on Marie Curie & Other Chemists

Marie Curie and Radioactivity (Inventions and Discovery)
Marie Curie and Radioactivity (Inventions and Discovery)

Also look for "Marie Curie: Scientist Who Made Glowing Discoveries" (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Inventors & Scientists) by Mike Venezia, "The Value of Learning: The Story of Marie Curie" (Value Tale) by Ann D. Johnson, and "The Day-Glo Brothers" by Chris Barton.

 

Our Favorite YouTube Clips on Marie Curie

Explosions

(Our Grand Finale)

To wrap up the chemistry unit, my children of course wanted to blow up something. We did the closest thing and bought sparklers and pop-ems and then discussed the chemistry involved in making them work.

More Helpful Video Clips on Other Chemistry Topics

Looking for all of my lessons and unit studies?

Over the years I have posted over 30 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 140 lessons. For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons at Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies .

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