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At the end of this atoms lesson plan, students will be able to describe the structure of atoms, including the masses, electrical charges, and locations of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Also, the students will be able to identify that protons determine an element's identity. Each lesson is designed using the 5E method of instruction to ensure maximum comprehension by the students.

The following post will walk you through each of the steps and activities from the atoms lesson plan.


Objective Introduction

At the beginning of the lesson, the class does a Think-Pair-Share to discuss the objective.

Class Activity

Ask the class (use the PowerPoint to show the questions):

  • What is the smallest part of matter?
  • What is an atom?
  • What are the three main parts of an atom?
  • Where are these parts located in an atom?
  • What does it mean if an atomic particle has an electrical charge?

Student Activity

Using the Bohr Model Template, including PowerPoint, and three different colors of candy, have students make model of these atoms. Assign a code for protons, neutrons, and electrons:

  • Hydrogen
  • Helium
  • Lithium
  • Beryllium
  • Boron - (The Moron)

As you work through these atom models, ask students of they start to notice any patterns. Also, introduce atomic mass. Students will have practice during the station lab, so it is okay of they are unsure after this activity.


The teacher will help to clear any misconceptions about atoms. A major misconception is students may think atoms are two-dimensional by using this model.

Estimated Class Time for the Engagement: 20-30 minutes



This student-centered station lab is set up so students can begin to explore acids and bases. Four of the stations are considered input stations where students are learning new information about natural selection, and four of the stations are output stations where students will be demonstrating their mastery of the input stations.  Each of the stations is differentiated to challenge students using a different learning style.  You can read more about how I set up the station labs here.


Students will be working in pairs to create atom models using a Bohr template. Students will have to follow the directions on the task cards and using the small squares that represent the subatomic particles (protons, neutrons, and electrons) create certain atoms. Cards will also inform students about the charges of each subatomic particle.



At this station, students will be watching a  video describing atoms. Students will then answer some questions relating to the video and record their answers on their lab station sheet. For example, What is an atom? What is at the center of the atom? What two subatomic particles make up the center of the atom? What kind of charge do protons, neutrons, and electrons have?


The research station will allow students to interact with virtual atom creator using the PhET website. Students will follow the directions on the task cards to create atoms based on the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons listed. Students will have to build and identify the atom. As students build a random atom, they will discover which subatomic particle determines the identity of the atom.



This station will provide students with a one page reading about atomic structure. In the reading, students will discover how the atom is the smallest unit of matter. They will learn about the basic structure of the atom. Students will learn about the charges of each of the parts, protons, neutrons, electrons. There are 4 follow-up questions that the students will answer to show reading comprehension of the subject.


The assess is station is where students will go to prove mastery over the concepts they learned in the lab.  The questions are set up in a standardized format with multiple choice answers.  Some questions will ask students: Identify the correct statement from 4 four choices that talk about atoms. What is the role of electrons in an atom? Which of the following subatomic particles determine the identity of an atom? How many electrons are in Lithium?



Students who can answer open-ended questions about the lab truly understand the concepts that are being taught.  At this station, the students will be answering three task cards to explain the differences between protons, neutrons, and electrons. Describe the nucleus of the atom. Which subatomic particle determines the identity of the atom?


Your visual students will love this station. Students will recreate an Oxygen atom on their lab sheet. Students will then have to label everything about their model.



The organize it station allows your students to place cards in the correct column and row that describes the location, charge, and size of protons, neutrons, and electrons.

Estimated Class Time for the Exploration: 1-2, 45 minute class periods



The explanation activities will become much more engaging for the class once they have completed the exploration station lab.  During the explanation piece, the teacher will be clearing up any misconceptions about atoms with an interactive PowerPoint, anchor charts, and interactive notebook activities.

The atoms lesson includes a PowerPoint with activities scattered throughout to keep the students engaged.


The students will also be interacting with their journals using INB templates for atoms.  Each INB activity is designed to help students compartmentalize information for greater understanding of the concept.  The atoms INB templates allow students to focus their notes on identifying the descriptions and charges of each subatomic particle. Also, the INB templates will help students to understand the information provided on a chemical symbol, and how to determine the atomic mass and number of protons and electrons from a symbol using the APE-MAN acronyms.


Estimated Class Time for the Exploration: 2-3, 45 minute class periods


The elaboration section of the 5E method of instruction is intended to give students choice on how they can prove mastery of the concept.  When students are given choice the ‘buy-in’ is much greater than when the teacher tells them the project they will have to create.  The elaboration project will allow students to create a presentation to teach about atoms.


Estimated Class Time for the Elaboration: 2-3, 45 minute class periods (can also be used as an at-home project)


The final piece of the 5E model is to evaluate student comprehension.  Included in every 5E lesson is a homework assignment, assessment, and modified assessment.  Research has shown that homework needs to be meaningful and applicable to real-world activities in order to be effective.  When possible, I like to give open-ended assessments to truly gauge the student’s comprehension.

Estimated Class Time for the Evaluation: 1, 45 minute class period


The full lesson is available for download from my TpT store.  Save yourself a ton of time and grab it now.

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