Wednesday, January 29, 2014

One Dimensional Atoms and The Atoms Family Song

We've jumped full force into our physical science unit. I must admit, last year I dreaded having to teach this unit to my students. I had made the jump from 3rd to 5th (I wanted a change and although 3rd grade will always have a special place in my heart...I love teaching 5th!) and it didn't occur to me that nowadays 5th graders learn this kinda stuff. I didn't learn about atoms and elements until I was in high school. So, I was wracking my brain on how I would teach some of these difficult (at least I think they can be) concepts.

This week I introduced the concept to my students. We used some readers to get some background info and then I played the  Bill Nye the Science Guy: Atoms video. They loved the video and were able to grasp the concept better with the visuals. Then I had my students make a one dimensional atom (next week they will be choosing an element and creating a 3D model). It was a pretty simple activity and I think it helped them to understand some of the vocabulary words and structure of an atom. I didn't do this with my students last year...I just had them go straight into making 3 dimensional models and some of them didn't quite grasp the concept.

Before they made their atom, I had them jot down some important information in their science journals in regards to atoms. They then chose an element from a list of seven preselected elements (I chose elements with smaller atomic numbers, more manageable that way. I can see one or two of my students choosing Radium and having to count out 88 protons.).

Not one of my best charted posters, it was done in haste :/
One little disclaimer for the atom models...the electrons are smaller than the protons and neutrons and should be represented as so. Of course, I only had one size of the beads. I know I have smaller ones somewhere. I searched high and low to no avail. I'm sure they will pop up at the end of the year when they are no longer needed. Anyways, I had a discussion with my kids in regards to how the electrons should be smaller, but we had to make do with what we had.
  • I had the students cut large circle out of construction paper (next year I think I will have them precut for them).
  • Then they collected the correct amount of protons, neutrons, and electrons. (Next year, I think I will give assigned colors for the protons, electrons, and neutrons. For example, all the protons are yellow, neutrons are green, and electrons blue. Just a thought...)
  • Once the students glued their protons, electrons, and neutrons onto their atom, they needed to label the charge of the protons (+) and the electrons (-).
  • They then added a little key and the name of the element.
Again, this was just a quick and simple activity to get them introduced to the concept. Next week they will be turning in their wanted posters and 3D atom models for the element they chose. Hopefully, I will blog about that before the school year ends. :)
Here are lyrics (I forgot to take a photo of my chart) to a cute song I sing with the kids. The first day, before we sing the song, we discuss if there are any words that are important or words they may need clarification on. I use highlighter tape and highlight the word. The next day, you can add photos to represent those words to the poster (those of you familiar with GLAD strategies will recognize this strategy). Then we sing our hearts out!

The Atoms Family
Sung to the tune of the Adam's Family theme song
They're tiny and they're teeny,
Much smaller then a beeny
They never can be seeny,
The Atoms Family.
They are so small.
(snap, snap)
They're round like a ball.
They make up the air.
They're everywhere.
Can't see them at all.
(snap, snap)
Together they make gases,
And liquids like molasses,
And all the solid masses,
The Atoms Family
Neutrons can be found,
Where protons hang around;
Electrons they surround
The Atoms Family

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