We've been doing a lot of kitchen chemistry lately, and I thought it was time to ground things a bit, with a review of (and introduction to, for the younger children) the periodic table of elements. We have the level 1 and 2 Chemistry books from Real Science-4-Kids. It's an excellent series, and both books provide a very nice explanation of the table, geared to children. And, the level two book even comes with a pull out poster to hang on the wall, just like in a real chemistry classroom.
But we notched up the fun today, with Simon Basher and Adrian Dingle's The Periodic Table, Elements With Style. It's a quirky little reference book, that gives real personality to the elements, both through the oddly intriguing illustrations, and the offbeat narrative. Each of the more common elements is allowed to tell it's own story, describing for the reader, the sort of element it is.
Each chapter begins with a description of one group of the table. For instance, Chapter One - The Alkali Metals, starts out:
"A rowdy bunch of rebels, these elements have a reputation for extremely reactive behavior."
While, within the chapter each element tells it's story. Like lithium, who says, among other things,
"I am generally a useful and very helpful character. You can find me acting as the positive half of many batteries, and as part of high-performance, industrial lubricants."
Most of the dialogue will go over young children's heads, but it is a nice way to introduce the concept of the elements, with the hows and whys of their groupings on the table.
I also found a very fun activity idea at Not So Humble Pie - the periodic table of cookies!
And, it's not as insane as it sounds. Really, if the cookies are made small, about 1 inch, by 1 and 1/2 inches, it only takes one batch of sugar cookie dough.
I had the children do the base frosting, and used it as a chance to discuss how Mendeleev divided up the elements.
The only draw back to small cookies, is there isn't room to pipe on the atomic weight, or number. I tried to fit the numbers on to begin with, but it became clear, pretty quickly, it wasn't going to work. So, we'll have to settle for the symbols.
Now, as we eat our snack tonight, we can flip through Basher and Dingle's book, and discuss the elements the children are eating. And, when a few elements have been removed, and eaten, we can look at how the Mendeleev's table, was helpful for identifying the missing elements.
It's great to be a homeschooler.