The AACT high school classroom resource library and multimedia collection has everything you need to put together a unit plan for your classroom: lessons, activities, labs, projects, videos, simulations, and animations. We constructed a unit plan using AACT resources that is designed to teach the Periodic Table to your students.

Grade Level

High school


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

  • Understand how the periodic table is organized and classify elements by family name, group number, and period number.
  • Recognize the pattern of the physical properties of the elements with relationship to period and column.
  • Understand and be able to predict the trends of atomic radius, ionic radius, and ionization energy.
  • Identify unknown elements based on their properties of atomic radius, malleability, conductivity, and ionization energy.
  • Classify an element as a metal, nonmetal, or metalloid based on its physical and chemical properties.
  • Recognize the contributions to the organization of the periodic table over time by important scientists.
  • Understand that the current periodic table was developed over time based on many discoveries, models and revisions.

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of

  • Periodic Table
  • Physical Properties
  • Periodic Trends
  • Atomic Radius
  • Ionic Radius
  • Ionization Energy
  • Metallic Properties


Teacher Preparation: See individual resources

Lesson: 7–10 class periods, depending upon class level


  • Refer to the materials list given with each individual activity.


  • Refer to the safety instructions given for each individual activity.

Teacher Notes

  • The activities shown below are listed in the order that they should be completed.
  • The teacher notes, student handouts, and additional materials can be accessed on the page for each individual activity.
  • Please note that most of these resources are AACT member benefits.

Classroom Resources

  • Aliens Activity: Introduce the unit by having your students complete this activity. Students organize alien cards into groups and periods following trends, similar to how the periodic table is put together. The teacher can remove two cards from each student’s deck, and after they organize the cards the students can predict (draw) the missing aliens.
  • Use videos from the Founders of Chemistry video series to show your students how the Periodic Table was developed. Both of the videos have student activity sheets that include questions for them to answer as they watch.
    • History of the Periodic Table: This video tells the story of the development of the periodic table and pays tribute to each of the major scientific contributors who made great discoveries through their efforts to best organize the elements.
    • Dmitri Mendeleev: You may also want to show your students this video, which tells the story of Dmitri Mendeleev, who organized the periodic table, even leaving gaps to be filled in with elements that weren't yet discovered.
  • Investigations: Your students can learn the basics about the Periodic Table by completing the Periodic Table Scavenger Hunt and the The Organization of the Periodic Table activities. Students will use the online periodic table,, to investigate a number of chemistry concepts and explore information about the elements, including historical data, physical properties, periodic trends and more.
  • Make a Periodic Table Activity: Use this activity to get a quick assessment of your students’ understanding of the organization of the Periodic Table. Students use imaginary elements to create a periodic table based on the known properties of those elements. The answer key is available.
  • Investigations: Introduce Periodic Trends with the Atomic Radius Exploration activity in this lesson. The answer key is available.
  • Periodic Trends: Ionization Energy, Atomic Radius & Ionic Radius: Use this simulation and the accompanying Simulation: Periodic Trends activity to further explore this topic. In the simulation, students will investigate several periodic trends, including atomic radius, ionization energy and ionic radius. Through the use of this simulation students will have the opportunity to examine atomic data as well as visually compare and interact with select elements from the periodic table. The answer key is available.
  • Periodic Trends: Electron Affinity, Atomic Radius, & Ionic Radius: More advanced classes may also want to use this simulation and the accompanying activity sheet. Students will focus their investigation on the electron affinity of an atom and examine the formation of an anion as well as compare the atomic radius of a neutral atom to the ionic radius of its anion. The answer key is available.
  • Then use the activity, Organizing the Periodic Table to challenge students to organize elements into the shape of the periodic table based on data. Students are given a set of cards, each card representing an element, and containing five data points for consideration. The data that students will analyze includes atomic mass, atomic radius, melting point, density and electronegativity.
  • Mendeleev’s Periodic Table: This activity can be used to formally or informally access your student’s understanding of periodic trends. Students will use their knowledge of Periodic Trends and a set of Mendeleev’s Cards to analyze and identify unknown elements and organize them correctly in the Periodic Table.
  • Metal, Nonmetal, or Metalloid?: Finish the unit with this lab activity, which allows students to classify several samples of elements as metals, nonmetals, or metalloid based on their physical and chemical properties.
  • Periodic Table of…Mistakes: This resource is from the May 2017 issue of Chemistry Solutions and can be used as a classroom activity or even as an informal assessment at the end of the unit. This fun activity challenges students to find 25 errors, such as element name, symbol, placement and trends, on our Periodic Table of Mistakes. A correct version of the table and an answer key are also available with this resource.

Culminating Activity

  • End the unit with the project, Repurposing the Periodic Table as a culminating activity. Students must apply the principles governing the organization of the periodic table to one of their own creation. Students choose a category of objects and organize them into a periodic table, establishing trends across a period and within a group and creating a poster to present their table to the class.

Scientific Literacy

  • Disappearing Spoon Reading Questions: Use this activity with the young reader’s edition of Sam Kean’s The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements to help increase your students’ scientific literacy. Assign them to read a series of short passages from the young reader’s edition of the book. The readings are related to the elements in the AACT Sam Kean’s Disappearing Spoon video series. After each reading, show the related video from the video series. All 11 of the videos in this series have student video questions available for download.
  • ChemMatters: Use The Many Looks of the Periodic Table (October 2008) article as the basis for an extension activity or project at the end of the chapter to enhance science literacy skills.