Compounds and Elements Short Activity

Carrie DePetris


This activity is geared toward sixth and seventh grade students who may be learning about elements and compounds for the first time. The They Might Be Giants song "Meet the Elements" reviews most of the material covered in middle school science textbooks on the subject and delves just far enough into "advanced" material so as to carefully stretch the students' comfortability level.

Students would first be given a handout of the song lyrics. The lyrics would then be read as a class and the students asked to take 2 minutes, independently, to circle or highlight as many elements as they could find. Following this, the teacher would ask the students to find the definition of a "compound" within the song.

After brief review of items 1 and 2 on the worksheet, the teacher would direct the students to watch the screen and challenge them to write down as many compounds as possible while they watched the music video, embedded below. After viewing the video, the students would be directed to find the compounds in the song and share the compounds they recognized in the video within their 3 to 4 person groups. Using the lyrics, the students would identify what elements make up the compound they identified from the video, star the lyric and discuss where that compound is found in everyday life.

This activity engages multiple types of learners and allows those students who may have trouble reading to listen to the song in order to supplement their learning. Alternatively, the compounds that are discussed in item 3 of the worksheet are not in the lyrics, therefore students must watch the video and use inference to complete the table. In allowing for discussion, the activity pulls together the strengths of individual group members to understand the material being presented.




"Meet The Elements"

Iron is a metal, you see it every day
Oxygen, eventually, will make it rust away
Carbon in its ordinary form is coal
Crush it together, and diamonds are born

Come on come on and meet the elements
May I introduce you to our friends, the elements?
Like a box of paints that are mixed to make every shade
They either combine to make a chemical compound or stand alone as they are

Neon's a gas that lights up the sign for a pizza place
The coins that you pay with are copper, nickel, and zinc
Silicon and oxygen make concrete bricks and glass
Now add some gold and silver for some pizza place class

Come on come on and meet the elements
I think you should check out the ones they call the elements
Like a box of paints that are mixed to make every shade
They either combine to make a chemical compound or stand alone as they are

Team up with other elements making compounds when they combine
Or make up a simple element formed out of atoms of the one kind

Balloons are full of helium, and so is every star
Stars are mostly hydrogen, which may someday fill your car

Hey, who let in all these elephants?
Did you know that elephants are made of elements?
Elephants are mostly made of four elements
And every living thing is mostly made of four elements
Plants, bugs, birds, fish, bacteria and men
Are mostly carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen

Come on come on and meet the elements
You and I are complicated, but we're made of elements
Like a box of paints that are mixed to make every shade
They either combine to make a chemical compound or stand alone as they are

Team up with other elements making compounds when they combine
Or make up a simple element formed out of atoms of the one kind

Come on come on and meet the elements
Check out the ones they call the elements
Like a box of paints that are mixed to make every shade
They either combine to make a chemical compound or stand alone as they are