Game Activity: Matchmaker Ionic Bonding Mark as Favorite (9 Favorites)

ACTIVITY in Naming Compounds, Ionic Bonding. Last updated January 29, 2024.


In this game, students will test their knowledge of ionic bonding by forming compounds from a variety of ions. During the game students will be provided with a cation and an anion, as well as the name of an ionic compound. The goal is to form the ionic compound that matches the name using the provided ions. Students score points by combining the ions in the correct ratio, based on the charges, and by selecting the matching chemical formula. Students can adjust the difficulty of the game by selecting from several different options.

Grade Level

High School

NGSS Alignment

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

  • HS-PS1-1: Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.
  • Scientific and Engineering Practices:
    • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
    • Developing and Using Models


By the end of this game, students should be able to:

  • Determine the correct ratio of cations to anions required in an ionic compound.
  • Correctly write the chemical formula for an ionic compound.
  • Identify the stock number for a metal with multiple charged ions.
  • Properly use parenthesis when writing the chemical formula for a compound containing a polyatomic ion.

Chemistry Topics

This game supports students’ understanding of:

  • Ionic Bonding
  • Naming Compounds
  • Chemical Formulas
  • Identifying Stock Numbers
  • Polyatomic Ions


Teacher Preparation: minimal

Lesson: 45-60 minutes



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

Teacher Notes

  • Many thanks to Steve Sogo, retired chemistry teacher from Laguna Beach High School for creating this game and sharing it with the chemistry education community.
  • The game can be found at the following link (note that students can access the simulation without an AACT login):
  • This game is a fun and challenging way for students to practice naming ionic compounds and writing formulas at various levels of difficulty. Additionally, it provides a visual aspect to support student understanding of how the charge of the anions and cations must equal zero in an ionic compound.
  • This game would be best played after the students have been introduced to the concept of ions, ionic bonding, and ionic compound nomenclature. Teachers could first use the AACT Simulation: Ionic and Covalent Bonding to allow students to explore ions and ionic compounds. Then, the Matchmaker Game can be used as an engaging opportunity for students to test their knowledge following the simulation.
  • In order to play students should have some prior knowledge of ionic charge, ionic bonding, multiple charged ions (i.e., stock numbers), and how to name and write the formulas for ionic compounds.
  • The game is designed to help students visualize the ions and their associated charges by using shapes of various sizes. For example, ions with a +1 charge have a single concave shape on one side while ions with a 2+ charge have two concave shapes on one side. Additionally, the ions with a +2 charge are double the size of the ions with a +1 charge. Correspondingly, the ions with a -1 charge have a single convex shape on one side and the ions with a -2 charge have two convex shapes on one side. Similar to the cations, the anions with a -2 charge are double the size of the anions with a -1 charge. The shapes act as puzzle pieces so that the students can “see” the charges balance each other as they fit together.
  • The game also reinforces the student’s ability to write the formula correctly for an ionic compound. After the shapes have been used to balance the charges, students are asked to choose the correct formula for the compound that was created. If they choose correctly, they will receive points and can move on to the next compound.
  • Scoring points:
    • Students earn two points if they correctly balance the charges of the ions and then choose the correct formula on their first attempt.
    • Students lose one point if the incorrect formula is chosen, but are given another attempt to answer correctly.
  • This game offers multiple levels of difficulty, making it accessible to students at all levels of understanding. Students who are comfortable using the polyatomic ions could start on level 3: Ionic Bonding with Mono- and Polyatomic ions while students who want to practice the basics can start on level 1: Ionic Bonding with Monatomic Ions.
  • The student handout is divided into three parts:
    • Part 1 should be completed prior to beginning the game as it primes students for the game with a few fundamental questions related to ionic bonding.
    • Part 2 should be completed after playing the game as it challenges the students to answer similar types of questions, but without the visual aide provided in the game. These questions will help to ensure that students understand the concept of ionic bonding.
    • The final portion of the student handout is a challenge question and can be answered in varying degrees depending on the student’s understanding of ionic bonding, and ability to apply that knowledge to more advanced concepts.
  • An Answer Key document is available for teacher reference.

For the Student

Part 1

Answer the following questions before playing the game.

  1. What is an anion?
  2. What charge is most commonly formed by elements from the alkaline earth metal family?
  3. How are polyatomic ions different from monatomic ions?
  4. What is the charge of a calcium ion?
  5. What is the charge of a chloride ion?
  6. What is the charge of a carbonate ion?
  7. What is the net charge for an ionic compound? Explain your reasoning.

Part 2

Complete the following questions after playing the game.

  1. How many sodium, Na+1 ions are needed to form an ionic compound with sulfide, S-2?
  2. Write the chemical formula of the ionic compound that form when ions of magnesium, Mg+2, bond with fluoride ions, F-1.
  3. Write the chemical formula for the ionic compound that forms when ions of iron(II), Fe+2, bond with bromide ions, Br-1.
  4. Write the chemical formula of the ionic compound that form when ions of lead (IV), Pb+4, bond with oxide ions, O-2.
  5. Write the chemical formula for the ionic compound that forms when ions of aluminum, Al+3, bond with hydroxide ions, OH-1.
  6. How many ions of ammonium are in ammonium phosphate, (NH4)3PO4?
  7. A test tube contains the ions of iron(III), Fe+3, copper(I), Cu+1, sulfide, S-2, and phosphate, PO4-3. List all the possible ionic compound that could form in the test tube.

Challenge: Going further

Using your knowledge of ionic compounds to attempt to answer the following question:

  1. A chemist mixes two aqueous solutions together and notices that a solid substance forms at the bottom. One of the solutions is sodium fluoride, NaF, and the second is calcium nitrate, Ca(NO3)2. What is a possible formula for the solid substance that formed?