Atoms are the building blocks of matter, which means it’s super important that students master this concept! When students understand atoms, other concepts of matter become much easier to understand, such as physical and chemical changes, states of matter, and the periodic table. I want to share some simple and engaging atom activities you can use to teach and review atoms until students master them!
Simple Atom Activities
#1 Guided Notes
Before you can dive into the heavy-hitting stuff, you have to start with the basics. This lesson and guided notes will help you introduce atoms and dive into the atomic theory. Plus, there are built-in checkpoints throughout the lesson to ensure they are understanding. I love using guided notes because students can easily go back and reference them if needed.
#2 Atom Models
One of my favorite atom lessons is having students build models of atoms. You can let students get as creative as they want with this atom activity. They can draw an atom model or create something 3-dimensional using items like M&M’s to represent protons, neutrons, and electrons in various elements (plus, it’s a tasty treat later). Another fan favorite is using colorful styrofoam balls and toothpicks for the atom model. This activity is a great way to allow students to get hands-on while learning about the atom structure.
#3 Digital Labs
Building models can get messy, and you don’t always want to shell out the money for supplies. Using digital labs is another way to get hands-on and online. Phet has a great simulation you can use to have students practice building atoms.
Skits are such a great way to add some fun to your classroom. When teaching atoms, have students create little skits where they act out the parts of the atom. Sometimes, we underestimate the power of being silly. Your students might roll their eyes in the moment, but skits were always one of the most memorable activities for my students.
#5 Digital Activities
Want more digital activities? These Digital Atoms Activities include six tasks students work through using Google Classroom. Or, if you’d prefer, they can also be printed out and completed by hand. Included are atom activities like vocabulary review and drag and drop activities. I like to break up each digital activity into timed stations so that students can complete them during one class period, and then we review together as a whole group.
#6 Create a Timeline
This atom activity focuses on the history of the atomic theory. Have students create a timeline of the atomic theory by researching the contributions of John Dalton, Neils Bohr, Ernest Rutherford, J.J. Thomson, and more. Students can create personal timelines in their notebooks or large timelines to hang in the classroom.
#7 Choice Boards
Choice boards are a great way to wrap up your unit and assess what students know. The Atoms and Atomic Theory Choice Board gives students autonomy over their learning. Students get a menu of nine activities to choose from, such as creating a podcast or comic strip. This allows students to showcase their strengths while still demonstrating mastery of concepts and standards.
I hope this list gave you some ideas for how to make atom activities fun and engaging in your classroom!