Introduction to Atoms


Introduction to Atoms teaches students about the most basic building blocks of life. Students will discover how these tiny objects create every element and molecule that exists in the world. They will learn to define the different parts of an atom and know their functions.

The “Options for Lesson” section has several additional suggestions of activities you can incorporate into the lesson. One suggestion is to have students create more than just one atom for the activity. You could also have students draw 2D models of atoms using poster board, markers, colored pencils, and other supplies.

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What our Introduction to Atoms lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Introduction to Atoms teaches students about the building blocks of life. Students will discover how billions of these tiny pieces of matter make up their bodies, the oceans, the air, and every other thing. They will learn what components all atoms have and will be able to define them and their functions. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand.

The list of supplies you will need for this lesson includes cotton balls, paint, glue, tape, and other supplies that depend on the method you choose to create models of atoms for the activity. You will also need to gather about 10 items that are very different for the class opening, making sure you have a mix of items that are solids, liquids, and gases.

Options for Lesson

The “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page lists several suggestions for additional activities or alternative ways to go about the lesson. A few of these suggestions relate to the activity. For example, you could pair students rather than have them work alone for the activity. You could also use additional materials for the models and have students create models of more than one element. You can assign a specific element to each student to model. As an alternative to the activity, you could have students make 2D models instead, using poster board and other drawing supplies.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page provides a paragraph of additional information or guidance as you prepare your lesson. It mentions that the lesson material can range from too simple to too complex. This depends on the level of your students, the curriculum you follow, and the level of understanding you want your students to have. Keep this in mind as you prepare to ensure you deliver a lesson your students will be able to follow. You can also use the lines on this page to write down thoughts or ideas you have before presenting the lesson to your students.


What Are Atoms?

The Atoms lesson plan includes four pages of content. The first page explains what atoms are by defining them as the building blocks that create every single thing in the universe. Without atoms, not a single thing in the entire world would exist! This includes living things, like animals and plants, and non-living things, like air and water. Atoms make up the cells that develop into various living things like animals and plants. Cells are the building blocks of life, but atoms are the building blocks of cells—and everything else.

Students will learn that the human body is comprised of billions of atoms. Atoms make up every solid, liquid, and gas that exists. They make up the water we drink, the oxygen we breathe, and the earth we walk on. They are so tiny that they are invisible without a special microscope. Inside every atom are three kinds of particles: protons, neutrons, and electrons. The differences in the number of these particles within the atom determine what that atom can create.

A proton is a unit of positive electric charge, an electron is a unit of negative electric charge, and a neutron is a unit with no power. Both protons and neutrons make up the nucleus at the center of an atom. The electrons spin around outside the nucleus in what scientists call the shell.

Elements of Atoms

Students will next learn about elements. Atoms create elements, and the element an atom creates depends on its number of protons, neutrons, and electrons. There are a total of 120 elements. Scientists use the Periodic Table of Elements to keep track of them and organize them by atomic number and other features. This lesson compares elements to the letters that make up words, with words representing the many things elements have made.

When elements join together, they create molecules. A molecule is a particle that contains more than one type of atom. Water is a great example of a molecule made up of different atoms. The two elements that join together to make water are hydrogen and oxygen. A water molecule requires two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen.

Some elements are made up of single atoms and don’t attach to other atoms. Neon is an example of this type of element. However, there are certain atoms that attach to themselves and make a different substance. Oxygen would be an example because it is usually made up of two-atom molecules. The lesson provides a diagram of the Periodic Table of Elements for reference.

Key Terms

Here is a list of the vocabulary words students will learn in this lesson plan:

  • Atom: the building blocks that make up everything in the world
  • Proton: a unit of positive electric charge within an atom’s nucleus
  • Electron: a unit of negative electric charge that revolves around an atom’s nucleus
  • Neutron: a unit of no electric charge within an atom’s nucleus
  • Nucleus: the center of an atom that contains its protons and neutrons
  • Element: a substance atoms create depending on how they are organized
  • Periodic Table of Elements: a table scientists use to keep track of the 120 elements in the world
  • Molecule: a particle that contains more than one atom


The Introduction to Atoms lesson plan has two worksheets: an activity and a homework assignment. Each of these worksheets will help reinforce students’ comprehension of the lesson material in a different way. The activity in particular provides a hands-on opportunity for students to demonstrate their grasp of the concepts. The guide on the classroom procedure page outlines when to hand out each worksheet to the students.


For the activity, students will create a model of an atom. They will need a number of supplies to build it, including cotton balls, paint, and heavy stock paper. You will assign each student a specific element for which they will create their atom. (Students can work with partners or in small groups if you prefer.) Students will figure out the correct number of protons, neutrons, and electrons before putting their atom together. Following the directions, students will build the model and connect it to string so that it can hang.


The homework assignment includes a few different sections. First, students will write each of the four parts of an atom using the diagram to the right. Then they will complete 11 fill in the blank questions. At the end, they will define atoms in their own words and explain how they make up everything in the world.

Worksheet Answer Key

The last page of the lesson plan document is an answer key for the homework assignment. For the most part, students’ responses should mirror those of the answer key. The last question asks students to define atoms in their own words and explain how they make up everything in the world. You will need to review these responses student by students to ensure their answers are accurate. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Science, Video

State Educational Standards

LB.ELA.Reading.4-5.RI.3, LB.ELA.Reading.4-5.RI.4, LB.ELA.Reading.4-5.RI.7, LB.ELA.Science.6.RST.3, LB.ELA.Science.6.RST.4, LB.ELA.Science.6.RST.7

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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Great Resource

Everytime I download a lesson from Learn Bright, I am most grateful for the layout of the content. Content goes comparatively deep in such learner friendly way. Thank you!

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Material was well done and a very helpfu addition to homeschool material.

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Middle School Students enjoyed this!

Contained enough background, easy to use, good content and images. Simple to align to state standards.

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Great Lesson

The information in this lesson was spot on. And the project that came with it was well put together. Students really enjoyed learning about atoms. I will be using more of the lessons for further topics. Thank you.

Anita E.

Atom Lesson Plan

This lesson plan was perfect for my children. We used foam paper to make the electrons and they really enjoyed it.