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ACTIVITY in Elements, Periodic Table, Review, Chemistry Basics. Last updated April 27, 2023.


In this activity, students will need a pencil and eraser as they are challenged to complete a crossword puzzle without any traditional clues! Instead, students are given a list of element symbols and tasked with determining the element name for each symbol. Then, using the names, they will then attempt to place each one correctly in the puzzle. With only one possible solution, this puzzle can be very tricky!

Grade Level

High School


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

  • Determine the name of an element given the element symbol.
  • Use problem-solving and logical reasoning to solve problems.

Chemistry Topics

This activity supports students’ understanding of

  • Elements
  • Periodic Table


Teacher Preparation: minimal

Lesson: 30 minutes


  • Student Handout
  • Periodic Table


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

Teacher Notes

  • This activity was originally published in the December 1996 issue of ChemMatters Magazine. It has been republished in the AACT library with permission by the editor. The original puzzle page can be found in the ChemMatters Archive.
  • This activity was chosen to be republished in the ChemFun section of the May 2023 issue of Chemistry Solutions.
  • It is suggested that teachers use this crossword puzzle after teaching about the periodic table, at the end of semester, or at the end of course in high school chemistry.
  • This puzzle is uniquely challenging since it only has one correct solution and does not provide any clues for the placement of the element names.
  • To make it more difficult, teachers can limit the use of a periodic table when students are identifying the element names from the given element symbols.
  • Below are some suggestions for providing support to students if needed:
    • As the students record the names for each element symbol, remind them that correctly spelling the element names is essential.
    • Students need to recognize that the list of element names are grouped by the length of the name (starting with a 3-lettered element name and ending with a 10-lettered element name).
    • It’s helpful to use pencil (and have an eraser handy) as the puzzle is completed, so that students can easily correct any errors as they are realized.
    • If students are stuck, teachers can use the Answer Key document to provide a hint. The hints can be scaled depending on the need—for example, providing the placement of a single letter such as the “O” in “Oxygen” or the “E” in “Neon” will help a student move forward. However, if more assistance is required, the teacher could supply the placement of an entire element name, such as “Chlorine” or “Mercury”.
  • An answer key document has been provided for teacher reference.

Student Section


Grab a periodic table, a pencil and an eraser to solve this tricky puzzle. There’s only one way to solve it! Carefully place the element names below, using each name only once. Good luck!