If your students are having a difficult time balancing chemical equations, there are some very simple activities that can help them keep track of the various elements.
Keeping equation charts is probably the simplest of these activities. Before students begin to balance an equation, have them make two charts, each with the same number of columns as the number of elements in the equation. For example, if carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are the only elements in the equation, each chart would have three columns, with each element as the heading of one column. They should then calculate the number of each element on the left side of the equation and insert the numbers into the first row of the first chart, and then follow the same process to fill in the first row of the second chart. As soon as students add a coefficient to a molecule in the equation, have them add another row to the chart to keep track of how many of each element are on both sides of the equation.
Balancing Lego Equations
If students don’t understand the concept of balancing equations at all, you may need to take a step back and use some basic balancing equation activities using Lego blocks or other materials. Have students use different colors of Lego blocks to represent each element in the equation. They can then use the blocks to show how many of each element are on each side of the chemical equation. This balancing equation game works well for visual learners and others who need a more concrete way of understanding how to balance equations.
Making an Equation Poster
You can also have students work in groups to make equation posters. Encourage students to use small craft objects, such as scraps of paper, beads, or buttons to create a visual representation of a chemical equation. Make sure that they understand that they will need to balance the equation first so that the law of conservation of mass can be illustrated as well.
These balancing equation activities are perfect ways to help students understand how to balance chemical equations. As you see students finally understanding this complex concept, you’ll take pride in their accomplishment – and they will as well.