Creative Ways to Teach the Periodic Table of Elements

Elements are the building blocks of all matter.  To understand chemical reactions, how things are formed and react to each other, one has to learn the elements. It is the very beginning of understanding chemical reactions.

The periodic table is the visual format used to display all the known elements. In the table they are shown as scientific abbreviations. At some point every student will be required to reproduce the periodic table.  They will be expected to know both the scientific abbreviation and the name.

Let’s see if we can find some fun and interesting ways to teach the periodic table.

Most experts agree there is an appropriate order for learning the elements.  The first 18 elements that students will learn are Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium, Beryllium, Boron, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Fluorine, Sodium, Magnesium, Aluminum, Silicon, Phosphorus, Sulfur, Chlorine, and Argon.  

The reason these are taught first is that these electrons make up some of the matter in the universe. They fit nicely into three shells.  It is easier to begin with 18 instead of a huge number like 100.

*Magnetic board
Create two sets of magnets made up with all the elements.  Make sure that they are colored for the appropriate families as well. Be certain the magnetic board is big enough to build the entire periodic table.

First it is used to just reproduce and review the periodic table.It is sort of a matching project from the picture.  Eventually there are some of the blocks covered up and the students need to remember where to put them.  Once the students can reproduce the table with ease they can race and play games.  Students can time themselves and then beat their own time.

There are several songs and versions of periodic table songs.  This particular version is animated. It also displays how pronounce the names of  the elements phonetically.  It is a good all around choice.

This one simply lights up the location on the periodic table as the song mentions each element.

Many students end up creating their videos of the songs as well.

*Periodic table bingo
This in an entertaining way to reinforce understanding the names and the abbreviations. Bingo cards can be switched up with the abbreviations on some and the full names on the others.

An excellent place to explore games for older and advanced students can be found here.

Chemistry can be fun for students.  There is no reason learning should be rote and miserable. With a little imagination the students can come up with ideas as well.