Telling students that they have something new to memorize will most likely not thrill them. You may be lucky and have one that does not roll their eyes back into their head, but for the rest finding a creative way for your students to learn will be more enjoyable for everyone. Your choices in teaching methods will vary with the age of your group, but there are ways to reach all ages of students.
To teach the basic order of the periodic table of elements the Elements song by Tom Lehrer can actually be amusing for your students. The video of this even includes pictures to help identify and remember each element. Younger students will have the most fun with this but older students can enjoy it as well. Have contests on a weekly basis with age appropriate prizes.
Prizes can be given to any student that has the table memorized completely, memorized the most, or improved the most over the previous contest and, just for fun, for the student that does the best song and dance. Prizes do not have to be expensive, most younger students love a piece of candy and older students always love a reward that lets them skip a test or get extra credit. You might even hand out raffle tickets for an end of year prize drawing.
A dart board game can be created fairly inexpensively although you might want to use darts with safety tips. A similar option would be a “pin the tail” on the periodic table of elements chart. You or a student could throw a dart or pin the tail and then have another student answer a question about the element. Questions about the elements can be determined by the grade level of your students. You can start with simply learning the names of each element and the atomic number. Students can be asked to identify the element as a metal, metalloid or non-metal and if the element is a sold, liquid or gas.
Create a blank periodic table and give each student a copy. See how many blanks they can fill in. With older students you can require more than just the correct placement and element names. Various mnemonics can also be created for both the order of elements and their names. You can have your students come up with ideas for the mnemonics themselves. A familiar one to start with is AU. “Ay you, you took my gold.” You might even try different art projects for the organization of the table.
‘Chemistry As Fun And Games’ has a list of ten additional games available that can be used to teach ionic bonding, electron transfer, problem solving involving moles and mass, stoichiometry and more. Duplication of the material is allowed for educational purposes.
The earlier students learn the periodic table of elements the more likely the information will stay with them. While memorization and understanding is the outcome hoped for, you have many options for achieving this goal. For students that wonder why learning the periodic table is necessary just explain that life will be easier later on. Even students that do not plan on pursuing any science related fields can benefit from the knowledge that you have taught.