Science teachers, are you struggling with how to make the periodic table of elements an engaging and fun unit for your students?
Learn how to teach a unit on the periodic table of elements using these strategies to motivate and excite your students.
Building Background Knowledge around the Periodic Table of Elements
Cement background knowledge into students on the first day of school. Forgoing traditional getting to know you activities, have students complete the “Elements of Me” activity.
It’s a fun take on the periodic table of elements where students will add in some things about themselves but fill in
- an “atomic number” (grade level),
- element symbol (initials),
- element name (first and last name), and
- element mass (age).
This periodic table of elements introduction activity will look awesome hanging in your classroom for back-to-school night, and when students start learning about the periodic table later in the year, come back to visit these activities.
Start your periodic table of elements unit by tackling important vocabulary terms. This is important because most of these terms are entirely foreign to students.
Unlike other vocabulary terms, you really can’t use context clues to figure out what most of these words mean.
When choosing vocabulary terms, choose terms students will encounter over multiple occurrences throughout the unit that are meaningful to their understanding. Important periodic table of element terms may include:
- chemical symbol,
- period, and
- periodic table of elements.
In addition to introducing vocabulary on the first day, show a BrainPOP video. There is usually some time left after learning vocabulary, and BrainPOP is engaging no matter the age.
Videos are simple to understand and fun to watch. Their quizzes are challenging and just right for my students.
Using text to learn about the periodic table of elements
Next, build knowledge using science reading texts.
The text should include vocabulary and short, manageable paragraphs that are not overwhelming to understand. Including checkpoint questions and overall comprehension questions will help to summarize their learning.
Science texts can be completed
- in class,
- in small groups, or
- Sometimes you may want to assign them as homework.
Fun Periodic Table Review Activities
Now comes the fun stuff!
Periodic Table of Elements Review Activities
Tips for the periodic table:
- Print one in color and laminate it for small classes.
- Allow students to use this for the unit and then collect it at the end of the unit for the following year.
- Put the periodic table in a safe place to use next year.
Periodic Table Choice Assignments
- Dimitri Mendeleev,
- searching for elements on the periodic table,
- why it is useful and
- researching elements.
Give students time to complete the assignments or use them as a great project or homework assignment.
Integrating Holidays into your Periodic Table Unit
Periodic Table Project
Finally, complete your periodic table of elements unit with a project by researching one of the elements from the periodic table.
Students are given a guideline of what they need to include and will complete their element tile.
This activity allows students to practice their research skills. Even in the older grades, students ask questions like, “How do I find this?”
- atomic number,
- element name, and
Research skills are needed to determine who, when, and where the element was discovered, the chemical and physical properties, its uses, and fun facts.
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