Building a Periodic Table Unit Plan Using AACT Resources

By Kim Duncan and Jenn Parsons on August 4, 2016

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 searched through our ‘Chemistry Basics’ resources and constructed a unit plan for teaching the Periodic Table to your students.

  • ­­­Introduce the unit by having your students complete the Aliens Activity. In 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.
  • Show your students the Founders of Chemistry video about Dmitri Mendeleev, which can be found in the Multimedia section of our website. This video 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.
  • Your students can learn the basics about the periodic table by completing one or more of the online explorations with Investigations. In this activity, students will use the online periodic table,, to investigate a number of chemistry concepts. Students will use this online resource to explore information about the elements, including historical data, physical properties, periodic trends and more.
  • Use the Make a Periodic Table activity to get a quick assessment of their understanding of the organization of the periodic table. In this activity, students use imaginary elements to create a periodic table based on the known properties of those elements.
  • Introduce periodic trends with the Atomic Radius Exploration in the Investigations activity.
  • Use the Periodic Trends : Ionization Energy, Atomic Radius & Ionic Radius simulation and accompanying Periodic Trends: Electron Affinity activity to further explore this topic. In this 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.
  • More advanced classes may also want to use the Periodic Trends: Electron Affinity, Atomic Radius, & Ionic Radius simulation and the accompanying activity sheet. In this simulation, students will focus their investigation on the electron affinity of an atom. Through the use of this simulation students will have the opportunity to 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 Mendeleev’s Periodic Table activity can be used to formally or informally access your student’s understanding of periodic trends. In this activity, 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.
  • Finish the unit with the Metal, Nonmetal, or Metalloid? In this lab, students will classify several samples of elements as metals, nonmetals, or metalloid based on their physical and chemical properties.
  • OPTIONAL: While not housed in the AACT Resource library, you can use the ChemMatters article, “The Many Looks of the Periodic Table,” (October 2008) as the basis for an extension activity or project at the end of the chapter. It can also be used, along with ideas from the Teacher’s Guide, as a way to enhance science literacy skills.