Today was the first day of my chemistry class for younger homeschoolers.  The kids range in age from 10-13.  I plan on using the American Chemical Society’s free Middle School Chemistry curriculum and supplement with Ian Guch’s chemistry lessons and some labs/lessons from  The ACS’s curriculum is mostly labs but it does have some sections at the end of each chapter that the kids can read if so inclined.

Last year I had the middleschool kids do an interactive notebook in the Big History class and it went so well I decided to do one for the chemistry class this year. The big history kids seemed proud of their ‘fat’ books at the end of the year and it certainly gives the homeschool parent an easy way to show off the school work.  We also don’t have a real textbook again so this way the kids can make their own.  So for the interactive notebook part, I bought the $40 Highschool Bundle for chemistry from Bond with James on TeacherspayTeachers  – its currently on sale for $34.  I bought the high school bundle because I’m also teaching a high school honors chemistry class and its the same as the middle school bundle but with a few extras.  I haven’t looked at it all, but so far I’m pretty happy with my purchase and have found stuff I want to use for both classes.


After having the kids decorate their composition notebooks with scrapbooking paper, duct tape and caution washi tape, I repeated the bottles of stuff lab I did earlier this summer with the young physics class.  I prepared some empty plastic bottles before class – filIed them with yarn, cotton balls, water, rocks, etc., and the students brought bottles filled with rice, beans, kitty litter and beads.   I changed up the data sheets a bit from because I knew we’d only have 5 or 6 bottles for group and made one data table for the whole lab, including volume and density.  The main point of this activity was to get the kids used to working with grams  and to get an idea for what 50 g or 500 g feels like.

They also learned how to use the triple beam balance and a digital scale.  Some of the bottles were filled with rocks and were too heavy for the triple beam balance.

IMG_3918We talked about density a bit and I made a 6 layer density column in a graduated cylinder.  The instructions for this can be found on Steve Spangler’s site (among others).  I mainly did this because the Bond with James interactive notebook stuff had a great little cut and paste activity for just this activity.  The kids cut out a blank cylinder and then cut and pasted different rectangles labeled with different densities in the correct order on the cylinder.  The students  had to think about whether the highest densities would go on the bottom or the top of the cylinder. It helped that the lowest density was wood so when they asked for help, I just asked them if wood would float or sink and they all knew it would float and it had the lowest density, so it went on top.

Before class I recommended families watch the following video, Chemical Curiosities,  from the Royal Institute in England. Its a great lecture filled with some amazing chemistry demonstrations.