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Chemical Bonds: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Alexandra Owens

Alexandra has taught middle school science and has a master's degree in Math and Science Education.

Everything in the world is made of atoms, including you and me! Learn more about how atoms can come together and form chemical bonds to make substances we know and love.

The World of Atoms

Did you know that you're made of atoms? Atoms are the smallest parts that make up all matter. They're so small that you can't see them with a normal microscope. In fact, if you lined atoms up side by side, it would take 100,000 atoms just to be the width of a hair on your head!

Atoms are made of three parts: protons, neutrons, and electrons. For this lesson, we're going to focus on the the tiniest and craziest of them all, the electrons!

Atoms make up all mater. The electrons can be found zipping around the atom. In this picture, they are blue.
atom

Electrons are tiny particles that have a negative charge. They zip around the atom at super fast speeds. Atoms like to have just the right amount of electrons to be happy. Some atoms have too many, while other atoms don't have enough. Luckily, atoms are nice and help each other out, just like your friend may help you pay for your lunch if you're short a dollar or two! When atoms share or give away electrons, it's called a chemical bond.

Types of Chemical Bonds

There are two main types of chemical bonds, depending on what's happening with the electrons. If electrons are being shared between two or more atoms, it's called a covalent bond. If electrons are being borrowed from one atom to another, it's called an ionic bond. Let's learn more about each.

Covalent Bonds

Have you ever wanted to draw a picture, only to find out you're missing the exact color marker that you need? Perhaps you could share markers with a friend who was missing some colors, too. This is similar to how atoms share electrons in a covalent bond.

For example, an oxygen atom is missing two electrons. A hydrogen atom is missing one. So, these atoms team up and share electrons, making them both happy. This involves one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms, or H2O. Does this sound familiar? It's water!

In covalent bonds, atoms share electrons. Here, one carbon atom is sharing with four hydrogen atoms.
covalent

Ionic Bonds

What if you went to pay for your school lunch and you didn't quite have enough for the extra snack you'd like to have? Perhaps a friend gives you some money he had left over. How nice of him! This is similar to an ionic bond.

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