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Fifth Grade Physical Science - Atoms

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Keywords: molecule, nucleus, neutron, proton, electron, atom, periodic table, elements, matter, and particle
Subject(s): Physics, Science, Chemistry
Grades 5 through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: CHIME Charter Community School, Woodland Hills, CA
Planned By: Lauren Etting
Original Author: Lauren Etting, Woodland Hills
Objective: Students will understand that elements are made of atoms, and know the basic structures of an atom (nucleus, electrons, protons, and neutrons).

California Content Standards:
Grade Five, Physical Sciences a: Elements and their combinations account for all the varied types of matter in the world. As a basis for understanding this concept:
b. Students know all matter is made of atoms, which may combine to form molecules.
c. Students know that each element is made of one kind of atom and the elements are organized in the periodic table by their chemical properties.
d. Students know scientists have developed instruments that can create discrete images of atoms and molecules that show that the atoms and molecules often occur in well-ordered arrays.
e. Students know living organisms and most materials are composed of just a few elements.

Vocabulary: matter, elements, periodic table, atom, electron, proton, neutron, nucleus, molecule, and particle

Materials/Technology: LCD Projector, computer (with internet access and BrainPop account), PowerPoint presentation, whiteboard, whiteboard markers, journals

Classroom Description: The classroom is comprised of 25 students of varying abilities; two students are English Learners and are also diagnosed as having Specific Learning Disabilities, another student with a mild disability who struggles with comprehension, and two students in the class with significant disabilities where vision, attention, language, and motor function are impacted. There are also many promising students in the class who excel in science.


1.Teacher will begin by projecting the science PowerPoint presentation (the “What did we learn about elements?” slide) on the whiteboard.
2.Teacher will call on student volunteers to share what they have learned about elements since they have begun the unit and will write the responses on the board.
3.Students will copy responses in their journal, on the “What did we learn about elements?” page.

1.Teacher will then move on to the next presentation slides that introduce atoms.
a.Slides introduce atoms, protons, electrons, neutrons, and nuclei.
b.Teacher will stop to answer questions and check for understanding.
c.Students will be filling out their corresponding journal page, “Atoms,” that asks them to define an atom in their own words and to label/explain the different parts of an atom.
d.Once all of the slides have been discussed, teacher will ask students to use the periodic table to answer the questions in their journals.
e.After all students have completed the journal, teacher will call on student volunteers to review the answers.
2.Accommodations or modifications that will be used:
a.Students are provided modified journals that include simplified text and images.
b.Students are provided with a copy of the PowerPoint slides printed out.
c.Students are provided with computers that have a copy of the PowerPoint presentation with recorded audio on it.
d.Students provide real life items representing some of the elements. For example, a balloon labeled with helium, foil labeled with aluminum, jewelry labeled with gold and silver, etc. that they can share with the class.
e.Students have flashcards with vocabulary words discussed during science that they can share with the class.
f.One student has a communication device that is activated by a head-switch that is used when they have something to share.

1.Teacher will then use the computer and the projector to go on to the BrainPop.com website to show the students the video about “Atoms.”
2.Once the video is done, the class will go through the “Quiz” portion.
3.Teacher will read each of the questions and answer option aloud for the class.
4.Students will use sign language to show what they feel is the correct answer. If there is a clear answer that the majority of the class wants, the teacher will click on that on one. If there are many varying answers, students will be asked to have a brief discussion about why they think their response is the correct answer.
5.Once the quiz is complete, the class will review their answers.
6.To conclude the lesson, the teacher will then ask if the students have any other questions regarding atoms. Students will then pile their journals up on their desks and wait to be dismissed.
Materials will vary based on the needs of the student population and the modifications that they may require to access the curriculum.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
- Journal prompts asking students to write an adventure story or "Guess what element I am?" story as one of the elements from the Periodic Table.
- History lessons on various chemists and scientists (ie: Marie Curie).
- Access to iPads and "The Elements" app allows students to explore various elements in detail and write down three things they learned about different elements.
Links: Link to BrainPop
Materials: Office Suite, Middle, Elementary, Science, Cables, Video Tools, Projectors, Whiteboards, Internet Services, Autism, Speech and Language