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Storytelling in Science

Have you used storytelling in science? It is an underused technique! We often think of storytelling as an instructional technique in language arts and sadly not one for science. But, it gets children hooked into a topic and can provide a historical context in science.

Atoms are invisible and an abstract concept to children. So storytelling is just the perfect way to get started when studying this topic. We share with you, one way to start this kid of instruction, the Chillax Science way.

I started preparing by reviewing a few historical facts, composed a story in my head, got a felt world map, some wooden figurines and started storytelling.

We sat on the rug and I began the story. I told the story from memory, but since then I wrote a template it and share it with you. This story is incomplete as it does not include some significant discoveries in science that have shaped our understanding of chemistry and physics. Pleas modify it to fit your needs. Nonetheless, it is simple (and hopefully interesting enough) to captivate children’s interest. It went something along these lines…

The Story

Have you ever wondered what things look like on the inside? If our eyes could zoom into things, what would we see? Humans have been fascinated by the question: What are things made off? Philosophers and scientists over the centuries have been trying to answer this question. 

Scientists now can “see” inside things. It all started around 1850 when scientists were able to identify the sub-atomic particles of an atom. Thomson and then others (add a figurine in England) identified the electron and proton. Because scientists are always curious and asking questions, Rutherford (add new wooden figure in England), in around 1920 discovered the neutron. Wow, so many new pieces of evidence that augmented our scientific explanations of an atom!

Today, our understanding of atoms and sub-atomic particles is even greater. Scientists, today, have organized some of this information in what we call a periodic table. Can we figure out what  information has been included in this ‘special’ table and how it can help us further answer questions? 

Concluding the Story

When I finish storytelling, I often like to pose the question multiple times with a distinct tone, in cue to students that the story has ended. Also, I always have a book that I can reference as an extension for students’ further knowledge. My favorite books to inspire children are the Timelines of Everything and The Elements.

As you can see, I am not that crafty! Don’t worry, my children are often eager to remind me. Nonetheless, I still enjoy making my own teaching props. Gather wine corks, pom-poms, fabric remnant, glue gun, and sharpies. Glue fabric around the cork and then draw a face. I glued a pom-pom for an added effect. What do you think?

Let your creativity flow and share with us your final product!

Download the Story of the Atom {FREE}, do it with your children and comment on the post.

Published by Reizelie Barreto, PhD

Reizelie is a former homeschool parent and a trained science and Montessori teacher with a passion for curriculum development. She loves learning and teaching and on her spare time she helps families create home environments that enrich a child's learning. Reizelie has a PhD in science education and has been working in the field of education for the last 19 years. She loves helping teachers, schools, and homeschooling families improve their science curriculum in ways that are authentic to scientists' work.

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