Chemistry Unit – Middle School
New Update to the Chemistry Packet!
What’s in this unit?
This 150+ page Chemistry Unit helps middle school students understand the periodic table, valence electrons, periods, groups and basic vocabulary such as ions and isotopes. Students are introduced to the structure of the periodic table, Bohr Diagrams, Lewis Diagrams and electron configuration in a fun, hands-on way!
What ages is it for?
My kids covered this material several different times in late elementary & middle school and of course, have gone into even more depth when they worked on high school chemistry.
This is a unit, we’ve covered a several times when the kids were 10-14 or so (plus, I just added in new material that my high schooler used this semester.)
How long does the Chemistry Packet take?
This is a unit we covered most every year during middle school. Each time we spent about two to three weeks on the material and we went into more depth each year. You might want to cover all the topics in this 150+page unit this year or you might want to return to it another year and go into a bit more depth (and review what you covered the previous year). Plus, as I said above, I added in some material that I used with my high schoolers as well. 🙂
The First 20 Elements and Elements with Unusual Symbols:
There are two chemistry booklets on the first 20 elements and on elements with unusual symbols in this packet. My youngest worked on these pages when she was in 5th grade.
She used a beautiful book about the elements by Theodore Gray Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe (affiliate link) as a reference. It has huge pictures of the elements as well as pictures of items that use this element.
Building Molecules Activity
My 5th grader also spent some time building molecules.
- We have the Molecular Model Kit (affiliate link) for building molecules.
When my older two kids were in middle school we really into depth about the periodic table and how it is set up. This exercise was designed to have THEM figure out how to organize it (so don’t let them look at a period table when you start this activity!!)
In the packet, there is a student instruction sheet on how to color the elements. This activity includes the first 36 elements.
We talked about Mendeleev, who was the first to develop the periodic table and discussed how challenging that must have been. I told them that Mendeleev knew quite a bit about the properties of the various elements… and with their color-coded cards, they had considerable information too. They had to build the periodic table. The teacher notes (pictured below right) explain some of the hints I gave them on the way, but they did a great job with it as you can see from the pictures above! Along the way, the students took notes on the observation page (seen below in the middle) about the families they were looking at. (For example, they pretty quickly figured out that the blue elements were all metals — like iron, copper, zinc, etc.). They also saw that the yellow cards all had one little electron in the lower left corner.
Note: There are cards for the elements 1 (hydrogen) through 36 (krypton) included in the Chemistry Packet.
We did another hands-on activity to introduce the kids to valence electrons. I handed the kids Bohr Diagram cards that were the same size as the element cards from the activity above. I divided the cards among the kids and had them place the cards on top of the cards below.
Note about Bohr Diagrams: By the 1920s, scientists were convinced that the Bohr atomic model was incorrect, but they are useful. Bohr diagrams are used by chemistry teachers to introduce students to quantum mechanics because of their simplicity. They can help you understand how electrons are organized into discrete energy levels.
- each row/period added on “shell” (or ring) around the nucleus
- each column/group had the same number of electrons in the outer ring (except for helium)
Note: There are Bohr Diagram cards for elements 1 (hydrogen) through 20 (calcium) included in the Chemistry Packet.
The next day, the kids did a cut-and-paste activity with those same Bohr Diagrams. We used this chart a lot as we continued on with this unit because then they could easily see how many valence electrons were in the outer shell of the elements!
They also did the worksheet I made for them which has them look at the number of shells and number of valence electrons various elements have.
We also talked about some of the groups of the Periodic Table – alkali metals, alkaline Earth metals, halogens and noble gases. We talked in quite some depth both about the general properties of these groups and also about some of the properties of the elements themselves:
We went on to talk about Lewis Diagrams. These are similar to Bohr Diagrams, but only provide information about the valence electrons (the outer electrons of an element). By this time, the kids were able to whip through this worksheet (using the Bohr Diagram cut-and-paste activity above):We did a *really* fun activity when we explored Lewis Diagrams! My kids were stunned when I brought out bowls of Fruit Loops (not a regular item on my grocery store list, LOL!!!)
Our next topic was about metals, nonmetals and metalloids and how this information can help us understand different types of bonds that are formed. We talked (briefly) about covalent and ionic bonds. We talked about that in covalent bonds electrons are shared, which in ionic bonds atoms give their atoms away. It was beyond the scope of this unit to go into much more detail than this, though I did touch on electronegativity charts. We looked at the Pauling Table and talked briefly about how that chart can help scientists determine/understand the types of bonds that are formed. (There is a page about that in the chemistry packet.)
We did a review activity. The kids created an interactive notebook piece for their science notebooks about the Groups of the Periodic Table. The kids cut out examples of one Bohr Diagram for the groups, plus they cut out descriptions of each group. Your student can use the information provided or write their own description for each group. There is an answer key provided (but not pictured below!).
The chemistry packet has some matching cards for some of the unusual chemical symbols that the kids memorized. We also touched on some of the trends in the Periodic Table (though we really didn’t go into that much detail… that will come when they do high school chemistry).
One afternoon, I brought out some ping-pong balls and cups. The kids thought that was funny and enjoyed trying to bounce the ball into the correct cup! 🙂 Below you can also see some of the chemistry review cards I made for the kids (with many of the terms they learned during this unit… from proton and neutron to halogen, covalent bond, and anion and atomic number.
With my older two (and now with my youngest, age 13), we talked about electron configuration & electron notation. (For example, oxygen is 1s2, 2s2, 2p4 — does that ring a bell from you high school chemistry days?!)
My kids thought it was tricky at first, but then quickly got the hang of it.
I have just updated this section to add in a number of colorful sheets (that go along with the s-block, p-block, d-block and f-block colors on the reference pages):
I included some pretty in-depth teachers notes. Of course, you can always email me if you have any questions!
Here are a few close-ups of this material:
- Building the Periodic Table
- Bohr Diagrams & Understanding Valence Electrons
- Periods, Groups & Families
- hydrogen & the alkali metals, alkaline Earth metals, halogens, noble gases
- Atomic Number, Atomic Mass & Chemical Symbols
- Lewis Diagrams
- Metals, Metalloids and Nonmetals
- Unusual Element Symbols
- Trends of the Periodic Table
- Electron Configuration
Do I need any specific books with this unit?
No, our notebook pages and worksheets include answer pages and teacher notes. There are several chemistry resources I’m glad I had on hand, though
Understand Basic Chemistry Concepts – I originally got the free version on my Kindle, but I liked it so much I felt I had to have the book itself! Chapters 1 and 2 are especially useful with this unit.
Chemistry Homework Helpers by Greg Curran – This is fairly advanced (and I didn’t use it with the kids), but was really useful for me as the instructor.
Glencoe Chemistry Matter and Change – I purchased quite a number of used high school chemistry textbooks (8!! Crazy right?!!) and after going through these, the one textbook we wound up using a lot (for my high schoolers) was this textbook. It has all the answers to the practice problems in the back (not just the odd answers!). We used this A LOT when my kids covered high school chemistry, but I was glad I purchased it when my kids were in middle school so I could use it as a reference.
One Mom asked if this packet is suitable for someone with little to no chemistry knowledge.
Here was my answer! Yes! I provided all of the answers and actually added in quite a number of teaching hints along the way. I designed the activities so that the kids discover some of the patterns of the Periodic Table themselves. (That’s why Bohr Diagrams are really useful, if a little outdated in our knowledge of atoms!)
In this packet, I have a general guide at the beginning of the packet of what we did on day 1, day 2, etc. b/c I thought some parents might want a bit more guidance. I tried to make it pretty straight-forward (so even wrote out instructions for what I said to the kids on certain days and what hints I gave to help them discover the answers/patterns for themselves.
The Chemistry Packet is $7.99. Our units are PDF downloads. Check your PayPal email address for the download link, but if you run into trouble or if you have any questions, feel free to email me! ~Liesl
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Hope you enjoy this unit and learn as much as we did! ~Liesl
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$6.99 Physical and Chemical Properties of Matter Unit (see bundle option) Matter: Elements, Compounds, Mixtures; Organization of the Periodic Table; Molecular vs. Structural Formulas; Describing Matter: Physical and Chemical Properties; Density Activities – Mass÷Volume; Mixtures: Solutions, Colloids and Suspensions (suggested for grades 5-8)
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