« Return to AACT homepage

AACT Member-Only Content

You have to be an AACT member to access this content, but good news: anyone can join!

Need Help?

An Introduction to Chemical Reactions: A Story of a Valentine’s Day Dance Mark as Favorite (39 Favorites)

LESSON PLAN in Conservation of Matter, Classification of Reactions. Last updated May 17, 2021.


In this lesson, students will be introduced to five basic types of chemical reactions through a metaphor about a high school dance. Afterwards students will complete research to fill out a graphic organizer and reinforce the introductory information.

Grade Level

High or Middle School

NGSS Alignment

This lesson will help prepare your students to meet the performance expectations in the following standards:

  • Scientific and Engineering Practices:
    • Developing and Using Models
    • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information


By the end of this lesson, students should be able to

  • Identify five basic types of chemical reactions from a given chemical equation.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the law of conservation of matter.
  • Create a graphic organizer with real-world examples of each of the reaction types.

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of

  • Classification of Chemical Reactions
  • Conservation of Matter


Teacher Preparation: 15 minutes
Lesson: 20-30 minutes


  • Slide Presentation (available for download as PPT and PDF)
  • Device with Internet for student research
  • 2 pieces of paper per student (graphic organizer)
  • Rulers, colored pencils, or markers (if desired)


  • No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.

Teacher Notes

  • This is a short lesson designed as a basic introduction to chemical reactions. It could be used in a general chemistry high school classroom, or in a physical science curriculum in middle school.
  • The PowerPoint presentation is designed for a teacher to guide students through an introduction to chemical reactions. The presentation uses the concept of a high school dance as a metaphor to introduce 5 basic types of chemical reactions (synthesis, decomposition, single replacement, double replacement and combustion).
  • A student handout is provided, and should be completed by students during the slideshow presentation.  
  • Each reaction is both emulated in the dance and then given as a generic chemical equation. Specific details of each type of reaction and how to identify the reaction by formula are indicated within each subsection. Notes sections of each slide highlight some details that the teacher may wish to point out.
  • The slide that contains “End Credits” are the specific reactions (balanced) that were used in the slide show. The teacher may wish to highlight conservation of mass within each reaction. Additionally, the teacher may wish to make comparisons to details seen in the generic slides to show how each specific reaction has been classified.
  • The teacher is to note that the original slides actually show ions instead of atoms. This was done in order to avoid having to deal with diatomic molecules in the drawings while still conserving mass in the drawings. Please make note that the actual equations (in the end credits) have the actual reactants and products in balanced proportions.
  • The PowerPoint presentation contains some animated features, these can be turned off or removed by a teacher if desired. These features are not available in the PDF version.
  • Following the presentation, slides are included to direct students to build a graphic organizer. Directions for creating a graphic organizer are below:

Step 1: The student should take two 8 ½ x 11 blank pages. Place them, length-wise on top of each other, but the long edge should not match exactly, allow about 1 cm of width to not overlap.

Step 2: Fold the two pages in half, length-wise, so that 4 equal tabs show, approximately 1 cm each.

Step 3: Measure out equal sizes – a bit more than 2 inches – for 5 tabs and mark with a ruler.

Step 4: Mark the Front sections with reaction types. Label the tabs: Definition, Generic Equation, Specific Example

Step 5: Cut along the tabs on the first three sheets only, if desired. Note: do not cut all the way to the edge or the organizer will fall apart.

  • Students should now use the sheet prepared during the slideshow and research (either textbook or computer) to fill in the remaining parts of the organizer.
  • The students are then required to use the internet to finish filling in the details of the organizer.
  • In particular, the students are to pick one area of technology or industry to research and find reactions that fill the specific reaction types.
  • Teachers may wish to make suggestions of such industries, such as jewelry-making (metallurgy and gem formation in particular), pharmaceuticals, art, etc. Teachers should encourage students to find general reactions, such as the thermite reaction (given), and link them to industry.

For the Student



Chemical reactions are an everyday occurrence in the world around you. Today, we are going to classify five basic types of chemical reactions. While watching the presentation, please take note about the five types of reactions and their general formulae. Once we have introduced these reactions, you will create a graphic organizer summarizing this information and the research that you will complete as a part of this lesson.


As we go over the different reaction types, please make note of the following:

  1. Name of the reaction type:
    Description given:
    Generic reaction equation and any explanations:
  2. Name of the reaction type:
    Description given:
    Generic reaction equation and any explanations:
  3. Name of the reaction type:
    Description given:
    Generic reaction equation and any explanations:
  4. Name of the reaction type:
    Description given:
    Generic reaction equation and any explanations:
  5. Name of the reaction type:
    Description given:
    Generic reaction equation and any explanations:

Additional questions

What is the law of conservation of mass?

How does it apply to chemical reactions?

Copy TWO of the specific reactions and note how the law of conservation is upheld.