Friday, March 4, 2016

Chemistry for Tweens

Monkey has always been interested in learning about chemistry, even in early elementary school. Unfortunately, chemistry was not one of the areas covered in public school. When we began homeschooling, we were excited to finally have the time to teach him some chemistry! We began with:
Christian Kids Explore Chemistry - I think this was a great introduction to concepts and terminology of Chemistry. It had an activity for each unit, and was laid out very simply, with review questions that were easy to use. It covers the parts of atoms, molecules, acids and bases, chemical symbols, and even some very basic introduction to organic chemistry (hydrocarbons, esters, etc). It's a pretty straightforward text, with simple explanations, but it wasn't EXCITING...

We completed this at the end of his 4th grade year and sort of forgot about it. Recently, Monkey again expressed interest in learning more chemistry, and after asking him about what he learned already, I realized he didn't retain a lot of it (mostly not remembering the alkanes/alkenes/alkynes, acids/bases; the basics of atoms and bonding were among areas he did remember). So we searched for another Chemistry curriculum, since I had already sold the Christian Kids Explore Chemistry book.

We found Ellen McHenry's book:

The Elements - This starts from the basics, so some of it is review for Monkey, but it works out great since Bunny wasn't with us the first time we covered chemistry. This one is written in a way that kids can really relate to, with humorous drawings and explanations, and LOTS of hands-on ideas. There's 'worksheet'-like activities to reinforce the lessons, there's jokes, and games to print out, and links to resources on the internet. We are LOVING this! It really makes chemistry a lot more fun! For a reluctant chemistry student like Bunny, this is perfect. For the more serious student, this might seem too goofy, but as a kid, I think they would still enjoy the casual, everyday language and the references to more relatable ideas like baking.  We will follow up with her second chemistry book: Carbon Chemistry

Along with this, we are using Fizz, Bubble, Flash , which goes through various elements by families with lots of hands-on activities/experiments and interesting tidbits about compounds made with those elements.

These books are both fun and engaging, cartoony, yet filled with a LOT of information. Definitely beats a science textbook for this age range.