Activity Array

Here you'll find an array of activities for elementary children that can be used in Children's Ministry, after-school programs, in the classroom and by homeschoolers.

Catalyst or Inhibitor?

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“Recognizing Sparks” is Chapter 9 of the book, What to Do When Your Temper Flares by Dawn Huebner, Ph.D., which this unit is based off of.  The following activities were compiled for an after school program which I was doing at the time.  I hope your kids enjoy them as much as we did.  Unfortunately I was unable to take pictures of us doing the activities, so the videos and others’ pictures will have to suffice.

We did a slightly different topic each day of the week after reading or reviewing the chapter.  The daily topics included:

  • Is That a Spark?
  • Catalyst for Change
  • Cause & Effect
  • Investigators
  • Super Sleuth

WEEK 9 – Catalyst vs. Inhibitor

Is That a Spark?

Getting Started

  1. Read What to Do When Your Temper Flares by Dr. Dawn Huebner Chapter 9
  2. Discuss: What sparks your anger or other emotions?  There are some great chart ideas on pages 77, 79, and 80.  We did these as whole group discussions and gave the kids the opportunity to fill out their own charts, also.

Snack & Nutrition

  1. A slice of Apple – the oxygen in air causes oxidation in apples (it turns the slices brown) Does the knife matter?  Cut an apple with various knives – plastic, steel,…  Does the container matter?  Try copper or iron and compare to glass or plastic.  What inhibits the oxidation?  Try:  lemon juice, salt, salt water, sugar, sugar water, vinegar, …. what else?  Chart what was added and how long the apple stays white until it turns brown & show the color of brown it turned
    • Connection:  We talked about what causes anger.  We compared these causes to sparks starting the fire of our temper.  Fire needs fuel, heat and oxygen.  What causes apples to turn brown?
  2. Have apples for snack.  Spice them up by having some dipping options such as caramel, peanut butter, chocolate, cinnamon, nuts, or candy sprinkles

Art & Crafts

  • Spark and sparkle — Glitter slime (You can avoid or ignore a spark and decide to sparkle instead)  Here’s a recipe:
    • whisk together:
      • 1 bottle of sparkly glue
      • 1 bottle of water, after dumping the glue bottle into your bowl, refill it with water
    • mix separately (mix until borax is dissolved):
      • 1/2 tsp of borax
      • 1 cup warm water
    • slowly add a bit of the borax mixture to the glue mixture while stirring the glue mixture.  This is the tricky part!  Watch the video to see the magic portion.

Investigative Science

  • Shine a Penny – put dull, oxidized pennies in 4 separate solutions each in its own non-metallic container:
    1. salt water;
    2. water;
    3. vinegar;
    4. 6T vinegar + 2 T salt (this makes hydrochloric acid).
  • Which solution works the best?  The dull film on the pennies breaks down when the oxygen atoms in it join the atoms in the acid mixture, leaving the pennies shining like new.  [Science Experiments vol. 1 by Joan Bentley and Linda Hobbs p. 55-56]
  • Check out a similar experiment plus extra ideas on Hoop-la kids’ video below:

Fun With Words

  • Journal: What sparks emotion, in me?
    • anger / joy / silliness / industriousness (hard work) …

Fitness Play

  • Cheer – spark great playing by giving an encouraging cheer


Catalyst for Change

Getting Started

  1. Discuss: What is it that causes you to get angry or want to throw a fit?
  2. This cause is similar to a catalyst.  What is a Catalyst?
    • A catalyst is a substance that causes a chemical reaction to happen more quickly OR a person or event that quickly causes change or action. —Webster dictionary
    • Another definition: A catalyst is a chemical that changes the rate of a chemical reaction, but does not become part of the product. ( )
      • Catalyst generally increases the rate of a chemical reaction.
      • Catalysts are not all the same, one type of catalysts cause chemicals to break apart forming two or more smaller molecules. Other types of catalysts cause two or more chemicals to combine forming one large molecule.
      • Catalysts in living organisms are called enzymes.
    • A third definition: A catalyst is like adding a bit of magic to a chemical reaction. Reactions need a certain amount of energy in order to happen. If they don’t have it, oh well, the reaction probably can’t happen. A catalyst lowers the amount of energy needed so that a reaction can happen more easily.
  3. Another way to explain it is:

Snack & Nutrition

  • Snack:  Pretzels — after you make them
  • Yeast reactions & Pretzels – testing for catalysts and inhibitors of yeast:
    1. Dissolve a cake active yeast, fresh in 1 cup of 85° F water. Divide the yeast solution into 3 small glasses.  Put ¼ tsp. sugar in 1st glass, ¼ tsp. sugar & ¼ tsp. salt in 2nd glass, and nothing in the 3rd glass as a control.
    2. Put the 3 glasses in a pot and add enough 90°F water so that it comes near the top of the glasses without going into any of them.
    3. Observe: Which glass has the most activity?  Which glass has the least?  Does salt inhibit yeast activity or is it a catalyst?  How can you tell?
    4. Use yeast in the glasses to make pretzels: Pour the contents of each glass into a large bowl.  Add between 4 and 4 ½ cups flour. Mix to form a stiff dough.  Knead on a floured surface for about 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
    5. Oil a large bowl and put in kneaded dough and turn it so the oiled surface is on top so that it won’t dry out. Cover the dough with a clan, damp towel.  Let rise in a warm place until double in size
    6. Punch down the dough with your fist. Grease cookie sheet.  Shape the dough into pretzels (or other shapes) and put them on the sheet.
    7. Use a pastry brush to paint each pretzed with egg yolk that has been beaten with a tablespoon of water. Sprinkle the pretzels with  coarse salt.
    8. Preheat oven to 475°. Let the pretzels rise again in a warm place until they are almost double in size.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until the pretzels are firm and golden brown. — Enjoy
      • [Science Experiments You Can Eat by Vicki Cobb p. 110-112]

Arts and Crafts

  • Catalyst model using paper (catalyst) and paperclips (2 chemicals to be combined)
    1. Note that the spotted paper clip on the left is clipped on the first two layers of the folded paper.
    2. The black paper clip on the right is clipped on the second and third layers of the folded paper.
    3. Caution: Wear eye protection. The paper clips tend to fly out if the paper is pulled quickly.
    4. Holding the two free ends of the folded paper, pull the ends  in opposite directions until the paper is stretched out.
    5. Summation: The movement of the paper results in the paper clips being joined.
    6. The folded paper represents a catalyst which increases the possibility that two chemicals (colored paper clips) will combine. The combined paper clips represent a new chemical product. The catalyst is actively involved in the chemical combination  (connection of the paper clips) but the catalyst (paper) is not a reactant or part of the product. The catalyst can be used over and over again.

Investigative Science

  • ELEPHANT TOOTHPASTE — Catalyst Yeast in hydrogen peroxide (with color and soap)
    • You, too can make elephant toothpaste, with the following ingredients:
      • 110 ml of hydrogen peroxide
      • 1 packet of dry yeast
      • 15 ml of warm water (plus more later)
      • liquid dish soap
      • a flask
      • safety goggles & gloves


  • Potato Enzyme, Catalase — Catalase is an enzyme in bodies and plants that breaks down hydrogen peroxide as a catalyst.  Potatoes have this enzyme so it is easy to get.  Find the following activity and the science behind it at Practical Biology.
    1. Cut up a raw potato and mash it.  Do not cook it, cooking will break down the enzyme so it won’t work
    2. Place the mashed potato in a test tube or other small container.
    3. Add hydrogen peroxide.  If there is catalase present, foam should be produced.

Fun with Words

  • Catalyst  – You be the catalyst to change a word one letter at a time.   For example:  find > fine > dine > dice > dose    You can find a dose of happiness!
  • What does yeast do – create a poster or make a journal entry

Fitness Play

  • Tag – a tag creates a change of who is it

Cause & Effect

Getting Started

  1. Discuss: What happens if you yell for something or throw a fit?  Will you get it?  What is the consequence?  What happens if you ask nicely and make plans?  Which way makes everyone happier?
  2. Discuss: Cause is = the reason why something happened.   Effect = the result (What happened?)  Check out Mrs. Warner’s ideas here.
    • Talk about it:  The reason ___ happened was because of _____.   If ____ hadn’t happened, then ____.  Due to this event ___ .  This explains why ______.
    • Key words:  so, since, this is why, outcome, if __ – then __, because, cause, lead to , due to , therefore, reason, consequently, result

Snack & Nutrition

  1. Salad:  Start with cut lettuce, add fresh apple chunks, dried cranberries, and pecans.  Serve with your favorite
  2. Experiment with your food —
    • Apple Malady — What happens if you store apples with the following food?  Try it out.  (This fine idea comes from Everything2)
      • Choose either lettuce, broccoli, bananas, cucumbers,  OR watermelon
      • Get the item (for example, lettuce)  Put half of it in one bag and the other half in a second bag along with a few slices of a raw apple.  Bag #1 is your control.  Bag #2 will show you what cut apples and their enzyme does to the given vegetable or fruit.
      • “Facts:  As an interesting (and potentially useful) side note, the browning of apples releases ethylene gas which is known to induce flowering of many plants, including pineapples, and ripening of fruits such as tomatoes, citrus, and melons.”
      • “Don’t store apples near lettuce (causes spots and wilting), broccoli, cucumbers (turns them yellow), bananas (makes them brown faster), watermelon (makes it pulpy), or leafy greens (they’ll lose their colour)”


  • Charades – with cause and effect – Each team is made up of partners who act out the item together. Such as:  seed getting watered & growing; ball pitched & kicked/batted; wet dog shaking and getting others wet; waiter trips and drops trays of food;

Investigate Science

  • Jell-O .. Oh no — Pineapple breaks down gelatin protein bonds – add fresh pineapple to Jell-O that is set up —
  • Dry tissue – put a tissue in a cup then holding it upside down, put it straight down into a bowl or bucket of water.  If the cup goes in straight, the air in the cup is kept there by the water pressure and the tissue stays dry.

Fun With Words

  • Set out cards with causes & let kids write out possible effects
  • Cause and effect matching – match cards with pictures (younger kids)
  • Read: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (or other companion book)
  • Make a poster that shows describes cause and effect

Fitness Play

  • Play your favorite ball game — Look for cause and effect when you hit, kick, or catch the ball


Getting Started

  1. Discuss: Investigators search for clues and then test the evidence to discover the truth.
  2. Discuss: Have you Investigated what sparks anger in you?  Maybe you did some introspection or inner thinking.  Maybe you kept a journal of cause and effects.  Maybe you asked others what they have noticed.  If you haven’t, you still have time to do so.
  3. For lots of kids, it’s when they don’t get what they want. If you don’t get what you want right then, what can you do?  [Ask nicely with manners and see if there is a time that you can get it or something just as nice.  Ask if there is a way you can earn the privilege.]  Is everybody going to get everything they want all the time?  [No!  We all have times we don’t get what we want.  We might have to wait … sometimes for a very long time or we might even never get it.  Other times we have to work hard to get it.]
  4. Today we have several other challenges for you to solve.

Snack & Nutrition

  • Nutrition Investigators — Which item has more sugar?  Which one has more vitamins or is more nutritious?
    • snack bar, rice crispy bar, or brownie
    • apple sauce, apple, dried apple, (& maybe Apple Jacks)

Arts and Crafts

  • Make an investigator badge
  • Make an investigator folder
  • Color the investigator

Investigate Science

  • Expanding Capsules – In what solution will the foam capsule expand the fastest and biggest? –predict and watch —   Put a foam capsule in each of the following liquids and observe.  In which liquid does the capsule dissolve the fastest?  Liquids: ice water, warm water, vinegar, club soda
  • Hidden Ticker – find a hidden ticking clock or timer using just ears [Big Science Little Hands Super Sleuths]

Fun With Words

  • Read a story about an investigators.  Check out the top 10 by the Nerdy Book Club.
  • Write a story or comic about a mystery solved by an investigator.

Sports Zone/Games/Physical Fitness

  • Treasure Hunt — Have kids partner up and make a treasure hunt for another team or set of partners.

Super Sleuth

Program Potpourri/Circle Time

  1. Review: Have you been a Super Sleuth?  Have you found when or what sparks your anger?
  2. For lots of kids, it’s when they don’t get what they want. If you don’t get what you want right then, what can you do?  [Ask nicely with manners and see if there is a time that you can get it or something just as nice.  Ask if there is a way you can earn the privilege.]  Is everybody going to get everything they want all the time?  [No!  We all have times we don’t get what we want.  We might have to wait … sometimes for a very long time or we might even never get it.  Sometimes we have to work hard to get it.]

Snack & Nutrition

  • Super Sleuth Snack — Oh no! The snack is gone!  Where is it?  Find and follow the clues.
  • Suggested snack: bananas, snack bar, and pudding
  • Preparation: On the snack table place a tray that is empty except a sticker from the banana, a pudding lid, and snack bar crumbs. Hide the snack.  Place the following clues on a “path” from the snack table to where the snack is hidden.
    • banana peel
    • snack bar wrapper
    • snack bar crumbs
    • a smudge of pudding on a note
    • a spoon that obviously had pudding licked off of it.

Imagine That/Art & Crafts/Drama

  • Glitzy Crime – 3-5 different types of glitter (Purchase the same color glitter in different shapes and sizes from a local craft store. SciGirls recommends Tulip Fashion Glitter in silver fine jewel, silver fine hologram and silver medium hologram and Creatology Glitter in sterling and silver.) — The suspect spilled glitter while taking off with the jewels.  A glitter trail can determine who the suspect is.  Closely observe the glitter samples and determine who the suspect is. Set up four to six stations, each containing a shallow dish with a small sample of glitter. Label one station as the crime scene, and the rest with suspects’ names. Make sure that one of the suspect glitter samples matches the crime scene glitter! [from ]

Investigate Science

  • Who left their finger prints on the window?
    • Preparation:  have someone (or yourself) put fingerprints on the window or a glass.  Check out CSI Science: Get the Prints for an easy way to make fingerprints using pencil graphite and easy way to discover them with powder or cocoa.
    • Have a finger print identification chart available.
    • Have everyone make an identification card.  Each person will have a 3×5 card.  On their card they should write their name and place a fingerprint of each of their fingers.
    • The Super Sleuths should compare the finger print cards with the fingerprints on the window (or glass)

Game Time

  • Game Day – Choose a game to play — such as Sorry!  Uno!  Dominoes, Life, or any others which are available. – Think about what your strategy will be, along the way practice good sportsmanship: follow the rules, take your turn, congratulate the winner and know it is OK to not win.

Fitness Play


See more chapters from this unit on Managing Temper Flares here



Author: Janelle C

I enjoy planning lessons, directing VBS and child care programs. Children's ministry is my passion. God Almighty is my strength and inspiration. For fun I choose hiking, canoeing, camping, cooking, and reading.

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