The Elements: Ingredients of the Universe by Ellen McHenry

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  • Reviewed on Sunday, October 4, 2015
  • Grades Used: 5th and co-op
  • Dates used: 2015
We are in the process of using this and the only reason I can see that it doesn't get more attention is the fact that it requires cutting for games.

I am using this for my 5th grader's science for half of the year, and we alternate with nature study. My dd is in LOVE with this program as am I. She is very much a hands on learner and this provides a lot of hands on projects. The text is very engaging with a "fairy tale", comic Atomic Chef, and 2 little finger print guys that go along. At times the text is funny and always interesting. The hands on projects give the child plenty of opportunities to be exposed to the elements in a non-intimidating way. I find this helps with memory a good deal.

I am also using it for co-op for kids all the way from pre-school to 10th grade. It is fun for all! I give a short overview of the material presented in the chapter and then we play the games or do the craft or experiments.

My hopes in using this is to give these kids what I never had....a fun intro to chemistry that will keep them from being terrified of the subject. I wish I would have had The Elements in school!


  • Reviewed on Monday, April 5, 2010
  • Grades Used: 1st
  • Dates used: 2010
I found this curriculum after my son, age 6, requested that we start learning about chemistry. I was very concerned that chemistry would be too difficult to start at this age, because there are few, if any, chemistry books recommended for elementary education. This curriculum said it was for grades 4-8, but I read some reviews where parents had used it for earlier grades too.

It has turned out to be a wonderful fit for us. The text is written in a conversational tone, and concepts are presented without any intimidation. The author presents each element as an ingredient in recipe. In the first few activities, the child finds products around the house and fills in charts of what ingredients it contains. Then they find products around the house and look in the ingredient list for specific elements on the periodic chart (like a scavenger hunt). Lessons are combinations of text, stories about "element characters," comics, songs/rhymes, and written activities such as drawing electron dot diagrams. There are also some projects suggested, like making materials to use for games, a periodic table pillowcase, and a few simple lab experiments.

I had to assist my son with reading some of the words and in one activity that required simple multiplication (which could easily have been skipped). But overall, this is his favorite subject, and this curriculum has made him excited about chemistry. He may not remember everything as well as an older child would, but this curriculum has provided a GREAT foundation in an easy-to-understand format. This would really work well for a family with multi-aged children, first grade and above. We may end up repeating it as a review in a few years to maximize retention. This curriculum was considerably inexpensive for the value received!