Activities to Teach Students to Classify Elementary Substances and Compounds Using Models

Chemistry is an essential subject that is taught in almost every school. One of the essential topics in chemistry is the classification of substances and compounds. The classification of substances and compounds is an essential step in understanding the composition of matter. It involves the identification of pure substances and mixtures and categorizing substances as elements or compounds. Elementary students require a hands-on approach to understand and learn these concepts. This article discusses different activities that teachers can use to teach students to classify elementary substances and compounds using models.

Sorting and Classifying

One of the basic activities to teach elementary students about classification is sorting and classifying. Teachers can use a set of objects, such as buttons, beads, or seashells, and ask the students to sort and classify them. Students can sort objects based on their attributes, such as size, color, and shape. They can also classify them based on their composition, such as metal or plastic.

Mystery Substances

Teachers can create Mystery Substances kits containing various household items such as salt, baking soda, sugar, flour, and water. Students can record their observations, such as color, texture, and smell, before and after mixing the substances in the kit. They can then classify the substances and suggest which mixtures form as a result of mixing the substances.

Building Models

Building models is an exciting way of teaching elementary students about the structure of molecules. Teachers can use different materials, such as beads or wire, to create models to explain how elements combine to form compounds. For example, water can be modeled using two beads of different colors representing the hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Once the students have built the models, they can classify the compounds into organic or inorganic, covalent or ionic compounds.

Chemical Reactions

Another fun activity is demonstrating chemical reactions in class. Teachers can perform simple chemical reactions and discuss the changes that occur. For example, teachers can combine baking soda and vinegar and observe the chemical change that produces carbon dioxide gas. Students can observe the gas production, measure its volume, and identify the substances present after the reaction. Through this activity, students can learn how to classify substances based on the characteristics of the reactants and the products.


Teaching elementary students to classify substances and compounds is a crucial part of their chemistry education. By using visual models, hands-on activities, and demonstrations, students can explore the characteristics of different substances and compounds. Engaging students in these activities and helping them apply their knowledge through real-world examples can help make the learning process more meaningful and effective. With these activities, students can develop an interest in chemistry and appreciate how it explains the world around them.   

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