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The Periodic Table of Elements Mark as Favorite (2 Favorites)

LESSON PLAN in Periodic Table, Atoms, Matter. Last updated May 24, 2017.


In this lesson students will be introduced to the Periodic Table of Elements. Students will learn that matter is made of small particles called atoms, too small to see with the naked eye. They will also learn that there are more than 100 different types of atoms, which are presented on the Periodic Table of Elements.

Grade Level

Elementary School


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

  • Become familiar with the Periodic Table
  • Identify names of common elements based upon their symbols
  • Understand that atoms are the building blocks of all matter.

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of

  • The Periodic Table of Elements
  • Elements
  • Matter
  • Atoms


Teacher Preparation: 10 minutes

Lesson: 45 minutes



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

Teacher Notes

  • This lesson is recommended for the 3rd grade or higher.
  • Matter is anything that has mass and takes up space, and can be found in three different states (gas, liquid and solid).
  • Since matter can neither be created nor destroyed, they can only change forms. For example, water can turn to ice, or steam. In both cases matter isn’t lost or gained, it simply changes form.
  • All matter on the planet, whether solid, liquid or gas, is made of atoms.
  • Atoms are the smallest indivisible piece of matter
  • All types of atoms are listed and organized by their physical and chemical properties on the Periodic Table of Elements.
  • While there are only about 100 elements (or types of atoms) these atoms can be combined to form molecules.
  • Some commonly known molecules are salt (NaCl – one sodium atom (Na) and one chlorine (Cl) atom), sand and glass (SiO2), and water H2O. The Periodic Table of Elements lists familiar materials such as gold, silver, lead, oxygen, and neon. Therefore, these materials are elements.
  • Materials like salt, water, sugar and steel are not on the table, which means they are formed by putting atoms together to form molecules.
  • For each element on the Periodic table, there is a symbol, an atomic number, atomic mass, and more.
  • Many names are long and strange sounding; element symbols are 1 or 2 letters.
  • The first letter is always a capital letter, and the following are always lower case.
  • Engage
    • What is pizza made of?
    • Can you break it down into anything? (Ingredients - dough, cheese, sauce, toppings)
    • Can we go even smaller? (dough is made of flour, eggs, water, milk)
    • What’s the smallest part of pizza?
    • What’s that smallest part made of?
    • All things in the universe are made of smaller parts.
  • Explore
    • Distribute a Build a Pizza to each group of 3 or 4 students.
    • Have students break the pizza down into smallest parts.
  • Explain
    • Introduce the term atom. If matter were cut into its smallest pieces, it would be an atom. There are only about 100 types of atoms called elements.
    • Show students the classroom Periodic Table of Elements. Explain that all the known atoms in the world are on this chart. They are grouped in specific spots on the chart based on their physical and chemical properties. That makes up all matter? This cabinet full of ingredients. Similar to eggs, flour, milk and water, we have elements that make up all matter.
    • Write gold’s number, name and symbol on the board as an example (Au#79).
    • Point out that symbols always begin with a capital letter, followed by lower case.
    • List the elements that students recognize on the poster.
    • Introduce “Build a Word” worksheet.
    • Model how to find the symbol of each atom and write the letters of the symbol from left to right on the lines below.
  • Elaborate
    • Pass out a Periodic Table of Elements to each pair of students.
    • In pairs or individually, students will complete “Build a Word” worksheet.
  • Evaluate
    • What is an atom?
    • Why isn’t pizza on the periodic table?
    • Can there be a pizza atom?
    • Can there be a gold atom?
    • What is the symbol for gold?
    • Have students complete the “Matter Worksheet Crossword Puzzle” for final evaluation.