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Periodic Puzzler Mark as Favorite (8 Favorites)

ACTIVITY in Introduction, Elements, Periodic Table, Atoms, Model of the Atom, Electrons. Last updated December 21, 2023.


In this activity, students will learn about what makes up an atom and how important protons are in the placement of elements on the periodic table. They will reflect on what they’ve learned about from their reading and then test their understanding by playing a game that requires them to build elements.

Grade Level

Middle or high school

NGSS Alignment

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

  • Science and Engineering Practices:
    • Developing and Using Model
    • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information


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

  • Understand that atoms are made up of protons, electrons, and neutrons.
  • The number of protons determines the identity of an element.

Chemistry Topics

This activity supports students’ understanding of

  • Atoms
  • Elements
  • Electrons
  • Protons
  • Neutrons


Teacher Preparation: 30 minutes

Lesson: 90 minute class period



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

Teacher Notes

Introduction: 10 Minutes

  • Begin the lesson by assessing students’ prior knowledge about matter through discussion and/or use of Tom Lehrer’s song “The Elements.”
  • The Elements - Tom Lehrer (Lyrics and Chords)

Instruction: 40 minutes (35 minutes for reading and discussing)

  • Students read Chapter Two: Matter Becomes Electric from “The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry.” Instruct students to pay particular attention to pages 34–39. They will discuss as a small group their understanding of the concepts and illustrations.
  • When finished, students complete a Quick Write (a very brief timed journal entry) on this reading to state what they understand and recall from the reading.
  • Students share their Quick Writes with the class.

Possible Modifications and Adaptations

  • Students can read the selections aloud rather than silently. Students can discuss their impressions about the reading rather than complete a journal entry.

Puzzle activity: 40 minutes

  • Students receive a copy of the game board and tiles from “Simple Chemistry.” Students work as a group to put the tiles in the correct spot to complete the puzzle.

Possible Modifications and Adaptations

  • Students can work in pairs or individually with the help of an aide to complete the puzzle.

What does it “look like” when students have met expectations for this objective?

  • You know students are meeting the expectations when they are engaged in the reading and collaborating to complete the puzzle.

How will you evaluate it?

  • Evaluation of the students will be based on observation of the students’ journal entries and their ability to complete the puzzle.