My 6th graders recently completed “Bond with a Classmate” from Tracy’s ScienceSpot website. I have used this activity successfully with both 5th and 6th grade science classes over the years. Here is the description form her website:

Bond with a Classmate(Gail Sanders, Monroe Middle School, Wheaton, IL)

In this activity from Gail Sanders, a member of the MidLevel Science Teachers group in Northern Illinois, students are given a tag (or necklace) to wear with the symbol of an ion and its oxidation number. Positive ions are green and the negative ions are blue. The students are instructed to “bond” with other ions and keep a record of their bonds. Students had to work with their bonding partner to agree on and write a formula and name for the compound they formed. Once that was done, they could break the bond and find a different ion with which to bond. After 5 bonds, students switch tags with another student and start bonding again.

I have a modified version of the student handout posted here (link pdf file). If you have a smaller group of students, I would suggest changing cards after 3 bonds. When a student has successfully made 3 bonds, they come up to my desk, I quickly check their bonds for correctness, and then give them an oppositely charged ion. For example, if a student is Mg +2, they would then receive Cl -1 and make 3 bonds with that new ion.

The version in the video posted above is a more challenging version of the activity, I would suggest 8th grade or higher. Bond with James – free lesson plan on TPT (link). You can also combine both set of cards.

I don’t use the yarn for this activity, the students carry the cards around with them and it is easier for them to place the cards on the table when they pair up so they can write down the formula and compound name more easily instead of looking down and upside down at their cards.

If you have used this activity, would love to hear how it worked with your students and if you have any other ideas to add to this lesson.

For this activity, students will practice reading formulas, counting atoms, building molecules, and identifying bond types. This activity can be used in several different ways.

Stations

Different stations can be set up around the classroom with 2-4 formulas per stations. Each station will have enough supplies to create the models indicated. Students will complete one station at a time, have their work spot checked for completion, and then proceed to an open station. Making duplicate stations helps prevent bottle necking at the stations that take longer to complete.

You can either do timed rotations or have students move freely when they are done. Some stations will be more difficult than others and extra time will be needed for students to complete those models. I like to have several “Make your Own” stations around the room to facilitate movement and give the students more time to explore model making.

Lab groups

Instead of stations, each lab group will have a complete set of formula cards and a molecular model kit. 4 students will share the materials and students can work with a partner or individually. The models can be completed in any order, this helps free up the materials so that not all students are waiting to use the Carbon or Sodium atoms.

Matching Game

If there are students who finish early, they can check their answers by matching the model images with the formulas using the answer cards (see below). Or they can create games with a partner using the cards.

Above is a photo of a 4-door foldable for the three density related formulas: D= M/V, V= M/D, and M = VxD. The 4th door has step by step instructions on how to solve a word problem. Along with the formulas, inside the foldable are 3 practice problems, and a few notes about mass, volume, and density.

On the right side of the notebook are practice problems. Students have to determine which formula is needed, set up the problem, solve, and add the correct units. They can refer to their foldable for the formula and how to solve the problems. I have the students close the flaps for the known values. For example, if the problem states the Density and Volume values, they close those doors on the foldable leaving the Mass flap open, since it is the missing value. That is formula they will then use to set up the problem correctly and solve.

My main goal for this lesson is having the students choose the right formula, set up the formula by plugging in the known values (this is a step that the kids don’t feel the need to do/show as part of their work), and adding the correct units when done. Some students may have a little difficulty with multiplying or dividing decimals and rounding to the 100ths place, so I usually go over that before we begin by modeling a few problems with them.