One of my favorite activities from our first time through Cycle 3 was to make element cookies.
The first time around (when the kids were 6 and under), I bought ready-bake Pillsbury sugar cookies, a can of frosting, some food coloring, and a bag of m&ms. I think I saw the original idea here, but I made it as simple as possible for myself with store-bought items.
(Side note: Now that our home is gluten-free, I’m think of using gluten-free pancakes with frosting and m&ms. If I have lots of time (ha!), I may even try the gluten-free sugar cookie recipe in my favorite cookbook. I also need to look into gluten-free frosting options. For other ideas, you could use peanut butter and nutella instead of frosting and dried raisins, chocolate chips, and white chocolate chips instead of m&ms. I even thought about using toast instead of the cookies.)
We made element cookies with a red frosting nucleus, blue (m&m) protons, yellow neutrons, and green electrons.
Here’s what we did:
For the first four elements, we reviewed the atomic number and mass for that element (from our Classical Conversations memory work). We also reviewed the definition of the atomic number.
I had the kids figure out the number of protons, electrons, and neutrons so that we could decorate each cookie.
Remember: the atomic number equals the number of protons and the number of electrons in a neutral atom.
To calculate the neutrons: you have to subtract the atomic number from the atomic mass of each element.
For an example:
Lithium has an atomic number of 3. There are 3 protons and 3 electrons. The protons go in the nucleus of the atom (the red frosting on our cookies). The electrons go on the white frosting. The neutrons can be calculated by taking the atomic mass (7) and subtracting the atomic number (3). There are 4 neutrons for Lithium.
I love this type of activity because you can have children of different levels practice different skills.
When we did this 3 years ago, it was the day Elijah was being introduced to subtraction. The small subtraction questions were great for this. You can see the simple hand-written worksheets I made for each element in this picture. This time around, I will probably have Ruthie make the worksheets for the little boys as her handwriting practice.
Isaiah was still working on learning how to count and did a great job counting out his m&ms,
while Gideon (age 2) just had lots of cookie-eating practice (even before frosting the cookies).
This activity was so fun three years ago, and I can’t wait to do it again (gluten-free this time).
That day, the kids overloaded on milk and cookies. I mean, you need to enjoy the fruits of your labor, right?