Atoms and Matter (K-2)

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In this activity, learners explore atoms as the smallest building blocks of matter. With adult help, learners start by dividing play dough in half, over and over again. Then they use a notebook (a few small squares of paper with 2 staples along one edge) and start folding the pages in half. Magnets and play dough are used to model the proton and electron cloud of an atom, and two play dough hydrogen atoms are "bonded" together to form a molecule. Intermolecular bonds between water molecules in different phases, physical changes, and chemical changes in the kitchen are also introduced. This activity was designed as a kit that could be checked out of the library, but the kit is not required.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 8

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Model


Materials List (per student)

  • 1 
  • 1 
  • 2 
dough (different colors)
  • 2
  • notebook and pen/pencil
  • ice cubes
  • pan
  • stove/hot plate


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Technology
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
    • Number and Operations
      • Fractions
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
    • Electricity and Magnetism
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
      • Chemical Reactions
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
      • Liquids
      • Gases
      • Changes of Phase
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
      • Elements and Periodic Table
      • Elementary Particles and Nuclear Physics
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking
  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Shaw, Maisie ; Gomez, Maria


  • All rights reserved, Passport to Chemistry Adventure Program, Mount Holyoke College, 2010

Funding Source:

  • Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.