« Return to AACT homepage

AACT Member-Only Content

You have to be an AACT member to access this content, but good news: anyone can join!

Need Help?

Trade Ions Mark as Favorite (11 Favorites)

ACTIVITY in Polyatomic Ions, Review, Ions. Last updated March 25, 2020.


In this activity, students will learn common ions by creating notecards and quizzing each other.

Grade Level

High school


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

  • State the symbol and charge for specific ions and name an ion when given its symbol and charge

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of

  • Polyatomic ions
  • Ions


Teacher Preparation: 10 minutes

Lesson: 30–40 minutes


  • 3” x 5” notecards (yellow, blue, green, yellow, white, pink), cut in half
  • “Ions to know and love” chart (see chart in Teacher Notes)


  • Not safety precautions are necessary for this activity.

Teacher Notes

In-Class Instructions:

  1. Divide the class into 6 groups. Each group is assigned a color (gold, blue, green, yellow, white, pink) and each person in the group is given five notecards of that color. I usually cut 3” x 5” notecards in half prior to doing this activity.
  2. Post the “ions to know and love” so each student can see the chart of ions.

  1. Each student makes flashcards of the ion set to which he/she is assigned. Students write the formula and charge on one side of the card and write the ion name on the other side. Each student makes only five notecards, all in the same color.
  2. Allow students 1–2 minutes to memorize the ions in their small set, then tell the students they are ready to play quiz-quiz-trade.
  3. Students move around the room until they find a person who has a flashcard set in a different color than theirs. These partners trade cards and quiz each other over the set they memorized, helping each other as needed.
  4. At this point, each of the partners has in hand a stack of notecards in a different color than the color they started with. They spend 1–2 minutes memorizing these new ions. When they are ready, they find another student with a different color of notecards, and play again. Play continues until each student has seen each color set at least twice.

Additional Considerations:

  • It takes about 30 minutes for students to make the cards and play quiz-quiz-trade for two rounds.
  • Students who put forth effort usually know 90% of the ions by the end of this time.
  • At the end of the class I let students make additional flashcards as needed or trade flashcard sets until everyone who wants a complete set has one to take home and practice.
  • It is likely that students will need to use flashcards outside of class time, or repeat this as needed to retain the information.