Using AACT Resources to Teach the Periodic Table

By Kim Duncan on October 23, 2017

As chemistry teachers around the country plan activities for their students, AACT will highlight resources from our high school library that helps to reinforce topics in different units throughout the school year.

We recently focused on resources related to chemistry basics, chemical measurements, and atomic structure. We now move on to lessons, activities, labs, projects, videos, simulations, and animations that can be used to support a unit plan for the periodic table. This plan includes the topics that cover the structure of the periodic table and periodic trends.

Unit Introduction

Introduce the unit by having your students complete the Aliens 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 predict (draw) the missing aliens.

Show your students Dmitri Mendeleev's Founders of Chemistry video that's located on our Founders of Chemistry page. The video tells the story of Dmitri Mendeleev, who organized the periodic table and even left gaps to be filled in with elements that weren't yet discovered.

Periodic Table Basics

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.

Related downloads:

Use the Make a Periodic Table activity to get a quick assessment of students' 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.

Periodic Trends
Introduce Periodic Trends with the Atomic Radius Exploration in the Investigations activity. Then use the Periodic Trends: Ionization Energy, Atomic Radius & Ionic Radius simulation and the accompanying Simulation: Periodic Trends 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 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 assess students' understanding of periodic trends. In this activity, students 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.

Unit Extensions

Finish the unit with the Metal, Nonmetal, or Metalloid? lab. In this lab, students classify several samples of elements as metals, nonmetals, or metalloid based on their physical and chemical properties.

The ChemMatters article, The Many Looks of the Periodic Table (October 2008), can be used as the basis for an extension activity or project at the end of the chapter. Along with ideas from the Teacher’s Guide as a way to enhance science literacy skills.

We hope that these activities help you reinforce several of the topics covered in a unit about the periodic table. Most of these lessons were made possible by great teachers sharing their own resources. We need your help to keep the collection growing.

Do you have a great demonstration, activity, or lesson about any topics relating to the periodic table that you would like to share with the community? Please send it along for consideration.