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Periodic Table Elements

Teacher Guide by Oliver Smith

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Periodic Table Lesson Plans

Student Activities for Periodic Table Elements Include:

All matter is made from just over 100 different types of atoms, which when combined, can make millions of different substances. These types of atoms are known as elements. The periodic table is a simple chart which orders all known elements in order of atomic number.

Periodic Table Elements Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

First Twenty Periodic Table Elements


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Have your students create their own periodic table by researching the first 20 elements and completing a storyboard.

Students will learn the symbols of the first 20 elements. It is important to remind them that if the symbol for an element has two letters, then the first letter will be capitalized and the second will be lowercase. For example, the symbol for helium is He, not HE or he.

The elements are arranged by order of atomic number (which is the number of protons and electrons), not the atomic mass.

Students can produce the electron arrangement diagrams using the smart atom diagram item. The smart atom item is pre-populated in the template, but search for “atom” to retrieve another. Electrons are arranged in shells and fill the shells from the shell closest to the nucleus to the one furthest away. Different shells can hold different numbers of electrons. The first shell only holds two electrons, the second and third shells hold 8 electrons (for the first twenty elements), and the fourth shell holds 18 electrons.


Element Symbol Atomic Number Atomic Mass Number of Protons Number of Neutrons Number of Electrons Number in 1st Shell Number in 2nd Shell Number in 3rd Shell Number in 4th Shell
Hydrogen H 1 1 1 0 1 1 - - -
Helium He 2 4 2 2 2 2 - - -
Lithium Li 3 7 3 4 3 2 1 - -
Beryllium Be 4 9 4 5 4 2 2 - -
Boron B 5 11 5 6 5 2 3 - -
Carbon C 6 12 6 6 6 2 4 - -
Nitrogen N 7 14 7 7 7 2 5 - -
Oxygen O 8 16 8 8 8 2 6 - -
Fluorine F 9 19 9 10 9 2 7 - -
Neon N 10 20 10 10 10 2 8 - -
Sodium Na 11 23 11 12 11 2 8 1 -
Magnesium Mg 12 24 12 12 12 2 8 2 -
Aluminum Al 13 27 13 14 13 2 8 3 -
Silicon Si 14 28 14 14 14 2 8 4 -
Phosphorus P 15 31 15 16 15 2 8 5 -
Sulfur S 16 32 16 16 16 2 8 6 -
Chlorine Cl 17 35 17 18 17 2 8 7 -
Argon Ar 18 40 18 20 18 2 8 8 -
Potassium K 19 39 19 20 19 2 8 8 1
Calcium Ca 20 40 20 20 20 2 8 8 2

Students will add a visualization to the “Uses” cell. This could be a picture from Photos for Class of the element or an image displaying the use of the element. Some elements are more difficult than others, so your students may need to get creative.

This is a great activity to check concept understanding at the end of teaching the elements and periodic table topic. Alternatively, have your students complete this activity at the start of the topic and use the resource they made as a personalized study guide. You can make this less challenging for students by giving them more information at the start or by asking them to include less information. For example students could just include the symbol and the atomic number.To stretch your most able students, get them to research properties and uses for each of the first 20 elements and they could then include this information on their storyboards.

Please note in this activity I have used the atomic mass of the most abundant isotope for each element. You may find on some periodic tables, the average atomic mass is listed.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

You are going to create a chart detailing key information about the first 20 elements.

  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. First find the symbol and names on the first 20 elements and use Textables to write them in each cell in the correct order. Remember if an element has two letters for its symbol, the first letter will be a capital and the second will be lowercase.
  3. Then research the information to include in the blue fact box. You should include
    • The atomic number
    • The atomic mass
    • The number of protons
    • The number of neutrons
    • The number of electrons
  4. Create the electron arrangement for each element using the smart atom diagram. Remember the first shell can hold 2 electrons, the second and third can hold 8, and the fourth shell can hold 18.
  5. Finally add a visualization to the cell to represent the element. This could be an image what it looks like or what it is used for.
  6. Save and submit your storyboard. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Vocabulary for Elements and the Periodic Table


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Have your students put key vocabulary into practice. One of the things students can find really difficult is using scientific vocabulary correctly and in the appropriate context. Using a visual representation or visual examples as well as a written one can really help students understand abstract concepts.


Example Elements and the Periodic Table Vocabulary


Period

A horizontal row in the periodic table is called a period.


Group

A vertical column in the periodic table is called a group.


Element

An element is a substance made of one type of atom.


Compound

A compound is a substance made of two or more types of atoms chemically bonded together.


Periodic Table

The periodic table is a chart of all the known elements in order of increasing atomic number.


Other terms include:

  • Bond
  • Proton
  • Neutron
  • Electron
  • Nucleus
  • Property
  • Metal
  • Nonmetal
  • Alkali Metal
  • Noble Gas
  • Halogen
  • Semimetal

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of key scientific vocabulary by creating visualizations.

  1. Choose five vocabulary words and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary and write it under the cell.
  3. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to give examples of the words.
  4. Save and submit your storyboard. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Elements and the Periodic Table Discussion Storyboard


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Discussion storyboards are a great way to get your students talking about their ideas in Science. They allow students to critique and evaluate different viewpoints without upsetting other students. This activity can be used at the start of the topic to elicit any misconceptions students may have.

At first, show students a discussion storyboard like the one below. Ask them to look at the problem on the discussion storyboard. It shows four students who all have an idea about the problem in front of them. Students should think about whom they think is the most correct and be prepared to explain why that person is correct.

Here are some other ideas to use these discussion storyboards in your lessons.

  1. Students add another cell on the end of the example you’ve given them to explain whom they think is correct and why.
  2. Students create their own discussion storyboards to share with peers on the current topic.

Note that the template in this assignment is blank. After clicking "Copy Assignment", add your desired problem and solutions to match the needs of your students.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Read the discussion storyboard that shows four students who all have an idea about the problem in front of them. You are going to give your opinion on whom you think is correct and explain why.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Add another cell at the end of the row.
  3. Use text and images to explain whom you think is correct and why.
  4. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Periodic Table Elements Research


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Have your students create a storyboard with information about an element. This activity will give your students the opportunity to look in detail at a particular element.

Let each student choose their own element, or alternatively, give every one of your students a different element to research.

After students have got their element they need to write the name and the symbol. Underneath that they have to fill out some information they can find from a periodic table. The atomic number is the number of protons in an atom. The atomic mass is the number of protons and neutrons. Depending on which periodic table you use, the mass number may not be a whole number. This is due to many elements having isotopes. Isotopes have the same number of protons, but a different number of neutrons. From those numbers, students can then calculate the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons for the element.

The next cell involves drawing the electron arrangement for the element. If you are not using the provided template, search for “atom” to find the smart atom diagram. Electrons are arranged in shells and fill the shells from the closest shell to the nucleus to the furthest away. Different shells can hold different amounts of electrons. The first shell only holds two electrons, the second and third shells hold eight electrons, and the fourth shell holds 18 electrons.

There is then space for students to find out some facts about their element. After that, students can include details about some numerical properties of their element by including the melting point, boiling point, density, and number of isotopes.

In the final two cells students look at the the properties and uses of their elements. As an extension, ask students to justify why certain elements are used for certain tasks. It is important to note that not every element has practical uses in its pure form. In these cases, you could get students to look at a compound that that element makes.

This assignment is completely customizable. You can easily change the cells to focus student research to a particular area.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

You are going to create an informational storyboard that demonstrates your knowledge of a particular element.

  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Name of Element
    In the first cell write the symbol and name of your element. Remember if an element has 2 letters for its symbol, the first letter will be a capital and the second will be lowercase. Then research the information to include in a fact box below. You should include
    • The atomic number
    • The atomic mass
    • The number of protons
    • The number of neutrons
    • The number of electrons
  3. Electron Arrangement
    In the second cell, arrange the electrons on the shells provided. Remember the first shell can hold 2 electrons, the second and third can hold 8 and the fourth shell can hold 18.
  4. Facts
    In the third cell find some interesting facts about the element. These could be about who discovered it, whether it is toxic to humans, its abundance in the universe or anything else you find interesting.
  5. Data
    In the fourth cell, include information about the element’s:
    • Melting point
    • Boiling point
    • Density
    • Number of isotopes
  6. Properties
    In the next cell you should list three different properties about the element
  7. Uses
    In the final cell you should include some uses of your element. Create visualization of the different uses using Storyboard That images or images from Photos for Class.
  8. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Milestones in the History of Elements and the Periodic Table


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Have students show their understanding of how ideas of elements and the periodic table have changed over time using this timeline activity. You can use this activity to highlight how science needs scientists to collaboratively work together to share findings to further human understanding. You can also highlight how scientific discoveries can directly benefit the human race and lead to important inventions.


Suggested Milestones

Copper

Copper was the first metal crafted by humans. It is believed the first copper was mined in the Middle East.


Phosphorus

This element was isolated by German scientist Hennig Brand in 1669. He was trying to create the philosopher's stone, a stone which alchemists at the time thought would change base metals into gold. He created phosphorus by heating urine. This was the first element to be chemically discovered.


Lavoisier

Lavoisier produced one of the first chemistry textbooks which contained a list simple substances that he believed could not be broken down further. This list contained some of the modern elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, mercury, zinc, and others.


The Periodic Table

The father of the modern day periodic table was Russian scientist, Dmitri Mendeleev. In 1869 he arrange the 64 known elements into a table using their atomic weights and grouped elements that seemed to have similar properties. He even left gaps in his table where he expected new elements to be discovered.


Einsteinium

Einsteinium is an element named after Albert Einstein and was discovered in the debris of the first atomic bomb explosion. Ivy Mike, as the bomb was known, was detonated on November 1, 1952.


Tennessine

Tennessine was the most recent element discovered in 2010. It was created by firing calcium ions at berkelium. The discovery was announced in Dubna, Russia in April 2010. The element was originally called ununseptium after its atomic number of 117. It was renamed Tennessine in 2016 after the US state of Tennessee.


Additional Important Discoveries

  • Cobalt by Georg Brandt in 1735
  • Nickel by Axel Fredrik Cronstedt in 1751
  • Magnesium by Humphry Davy in 1801
  • Hydrogen by Henry Cavendish in 1766
  • Oxygen by Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1771
  • Nitrogen by Daniel Rutherford in 1772
  • Chlorine by Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1774
  • Uranium by Martin Heinrich Klaproth in 1789
  • Palladium by William Hyde Wollaston in 1803
  • Sodium by Humphry Davy in 1807
  • Gallium by Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran in 1875
  • Francium by Maguerite Perey in 1939
  • Berkelium by a group of scientists at University of California, Berkeley in 1949
  • Californium by a group of scientists at University of California, Berkeley in 1950

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of how and why ideas of elements and the periodic table have changed over time by creating a visual timeline.


  1. Choose six people or moments in the history of science that you think are the most important in our understanding of Elements and the Periodic Table.
  2. Write a title and the date (just the year is fine) for these six moments using the timeline.
  3. Illustrate the moment with a cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
  4. Write a couple of sentences to describe the moment and why it is important.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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The ancient Greeks believed the world was made of five elements: earth, air, fire, water, and aether. In or around 500 BCE, Democritus first put forward the idea that everything in the world was made of small indivisible particles called atoms. The term atomos is derived from the ancient Greek, meaning “indivisible”.

In the early 1800s, John Dalton formalized atomic theory. He suggested all matter is made of small particles called atoms, that these atoms were rearranged in chemical reactions, and that these atoms have different properties.

Dmitri Mendeleev was a Russian chemist who is known as the father of the periodic table. He organized the elements known at the time into a table and left gaps in it for elements he predicted would be discovered later. The modern periodic table has 118 different elements, with 18 groups and seven periods.

Ninety-four elements are naturally occurring with 80 of them having stable isotopes. The most abundant element on Earth is oxygen, an element which is essential for life as we know it on our planet. Scientists believe that the two lightest elements were created in the Big Bang. All the other naturally occurring elements have come to exist through nuclear reactions. Stars fuse different nuclei together to produce heavier nuclei, but stars can only produce elements as heavy as 26 protons, which is iron. Elements heavier than this were created in supernovas, up to atomic number 94. Anything larger than this was created artificially by humans. Some of these supermassive elements are very unstable and break apart, or decay, in fractions of a second after they are created.

The periodic table is a way of organizing elements. In the modern periodic table, the elements are ordered by their atomic number. The atomic number indicates how many protons there are in the nucleus of an atom. The atomic mass tells us how many protons and neutrons are in the nucleus. The number of electrons are the same as the number of protons in a neutral atom. The vertical columns are known as periodic table groups. The elements in a group all have similar properties. The elements in group one for example, are all metals and all react with water. The horizontal rows are known as periods. Although elements in the same period do not have similar properties, they all share the same number of electron shells. The modern day periodic table consists of 118 different elements, starting with hydrogen with an atomic number of one, and ending with Oganesson with an atomic number of 118.

Elements are made up of three types of subatomic particles called protons, neutrons and electrons. While protons and neutrons are found in the nucleus of an atom, the electrons orbit the nucleus in shells or energy levels, located at different distances from the nucleus. Electrons are held in orbit as their negative charge is opposite to that of the nucleus. The electrons always seek the lowest energy state in an atom. In the first shell, we put a maximum of two electrons, followed by eight electrons in the second and third shells. For example, scandium has an atomic number of 21, meaning it has 21 protons. As it is a neutral atom, there are also 21 electrons. The shells are filled from the smallest going away from the center. Scandium has 21 electrons, so we need to put 21 electrons into the shells. So there will be two in the first shell, eight in the second, eight in the third, and three in the fourth. Scandium has a structure of 2.8.8.3.

The elements in group one are known collectively as the alkali metals.They are all metals that react vigorously with water. They all have one electron in their outer shell. As you move down the group from lithium to francium, the reactivity increases.

The elements in the group opposite the alkali metals are known as noble gases. They are very unreactive and have a full outer shell. They are nonflammable and have low boiling points. They include helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon and radon.


Essential Questions for the Elements and the Periodic Table

  1. How are the elements arranged in the periodic table?
  2. What do elements in the same group have in common?
  3. How was the periodic table developed?
  4. What is an element?
  5. What is the difference between a helium atom and a uranium atom?

Additional Elements and the Periodic Table Lesson Plan Ideas

  1. Students make a T-Chart showing the different properties of metals; they could then go on to use these properties to explain why the metals are used for certain tasks.
  2. Students to create a poster about their favorite element.
  3. Students create a presentation explaining which element discovery was the most important and why.

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