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Familiarize your Elementary Students with the Periodic Table: Lesson & Activity Ideas

written by: Marlene Gundlach • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 4/5/2012

Many scientists have contributed to the formation of the periodic table, although Dmitri Mendeleev is thought to be the father of the it. This lesson will help students explore the periodic table and the information it provides.

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    The periodic table contains a great deal of information packed into one location. It was developed to illustrate recurring trends in properties of elements. Elements in the same vertical column have similar properties. If you know the name of an element, the periodic table will tell you that element's symbol and atomic number. With this information, you can then learn a lot more about the make-up of the element.

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    Using the Periodic Table

    Make a periodic table accessible to you students. Then have them practice using the table by answering the questions below.magnifying glass 

    1. List all the elements in Group 17. (flourine, chlorine, bromine, iodine, astatine)
    2. Find sodium (Na) in the periodic table. How many protons does an atom of sodium have in its nucleus? (Sodium has 11 protons because its atomic number is 11.)
    3. Find nickel (ni). How many electrons does an atom of nickel have? (Nickel has 28 electrons because it has 28 protons.)
    4. Which is likely to have the greater mass, a cubic centimeter of titanium, or a cubic centimeter of zirconium? (Zirconium)
    5. What are metalloids? (Elements that have properties of both metals and nonmetals.)
    6. Where are the metalloids on the periodic table? (They border the zigzag line.)
    7. Have students take their copy of the periodic table home to go on an element hunt. Have them check items around their home for elements on the periodic table. They can check off or circle the elements they find on their copy of the periodic table.
    8. Reproduce another copy of the periodic table and cut it apart by elements. Challenge students to work in groups, without the aid of a complete table, to put the table back together like a puzzle. When complete, have the group share the process they used to complete the process.
    9. Have each student choose an element from the periodic table to research. They should include when it was discovered, where it appears in nature, how it is used by people, what importance uses it has, and how our world would today be different without this element. Also, ask them to include basic information about the element's make-up.
    10. Use the periodic table to complete this table from the media gallery. (Also included is an answer key for the table.)

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    Application of Knowledge

    As students study science in junior high and high school, being knowledgeable about the periodic table will be advantageous. They will be able to identify patterns in the behavior of the elements, a skill that will surely become valuable when it is time to take chemistry. Helping your students become comfortable with the information presented in the periodic table will stay with them for years to come.

    For more ideas on teaching chemistry, read "More on Eggium: A Fictitious Element Helps you Teach Atomic Mass".