Color Coding Families on the Periodic Table

This is a fun way to introduce the families of the periodic table and their properties. The students really enjoy watching the video clips from Periodic Table Videos and the experiments performed by the Chemistry Department at the University of Nottingham.

As a class, we found the location of each family, recorded the elements for each family, discussed their properties, color coded the periodic table, and discussed any patterns they noticed.


  • Google Slides (Public) – updated for 2016 with links to the YouTube videos to view an element in each family
  • Handout – (pdf) students take notes for each family and use this is a reference for further lessons
  • Periodic Table – (Updated 2016 pdf) I like to use this student version of the periodic table from Jefferson Lab for my 6th graders. I photocopy it double sided – one side stays blank while the other side is color coded. If students have binders with a clear pocket on the outside front, I ask that they place it there for quick reference and access.

This activity was featured on the following blog post: The Joy of Chemistry – A Unit in Photos a few years ago. You can read about how she used this lesson in her 3rd grade classroom as part of her Chemistry unit.

Below is a video about Sodium from Periodic Table Videos. They have a lot of great chemistry videos posted for free on their site, be sure to check them out!

Patterns of the Periodic Table: Finding Shells and Valence Electrons


  • Google Slides – students will learn how to find the number of energy levels (shells) for elements in periods 1 – 8 and the number of valence electrons in their outer shells using the periodic table. Updated (Public link)
  • Handout – updated Shells & Valence Electrons
    • Older version: How to determine the number of valence electrons and shells using the element’s group number and period – Notes (pdf) and Slides (ppt)
  • Find that Element!” Worksheet (pdf)- Practice finding the period & group for each element


How to draw Lewis Structures – a step by step tutorial


  • Updated Google Slides (Public Link) with step-by-step instructions on how to draw Lewis Structures
  • Lewis Diagrams worksheets

How to draw Bohr Diagrams – a step by step tutorial

I updated the Google Slides and worksheet for my lesson on drawing Bohr Diagrams. This lesson will walk your students through the basics on how to draw a Bohr Diagram for the first 20 elements on the periodic table. I also created a simple worksheet for students to record their drawings and do independent practice.

You can access them at:

For additional lessons related to atoms and the periodic table, please click on the tags below.

Element, Compound, or Mixture? Identify & Sort

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 12.05.24 PM
Students can practice identifying elements, compounds, and mixtures


Different ways to use this activity:

  1. Vocabulary reinforcement
  2. Students can review the slides independently as added practice and self check.
  3. This can be a guided mini-lesson for a whole class to reinforce the concept.
  4. Students can work in pairs to sort the cards into the 3 different groups, then discuss the answers as a class. Challenge – categorize the mixtures.
  5. Give each student one of the larger cards and have them do the activity “Quiz, Quiz, Trade


For more lessons related to this activity, please click on the tags below.






Element Advertisement Project Using Google Draw

Element Advertisting Template

  • This lesson is modified from the original lesson posted at
    • Detailed lesson information, along with a rubric, can be found on her website
  • Top 10 Elements Draft Pick ElementDraftPick
    • Student will research the ‘stats’ for their favorite elements
    • Students will draw numbers to determine the order in which they will pick their element
    • Once an element has been chosen, no one else in the class can choose that element and they will cross it off their list
  • Google Draw Template: Google Draw Public Link
    • Students will spend one class period researching their element and creating an advertisement using Google Draw.
    • If not done during class time, it will be completed for homework over a few days.
    • Display the element advertisements so students can see their work 🙂
    • To use the template, simply make a copy of the template to make changes, please do not request editing rights
  • Links for research

Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures Classification Activity

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 2.23.42 PM



Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures –

  • NEW: Google Slides – Public Link
  • Sorting/Task Cards and answers (pdf) – laminate and cut apart, 1 set per 2-4 students
  • NEW: Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures Notes
  • E, C, M, ? (pdf) – laminated or glued onto construction paper, cut apart, 1 set per group
  • OLD: PPT Slides (ppt – read only access)
    • this ppt can be downloaded and saved to your computer, but not modified
    • click on ‘read only‘ to open the ppt after downloading
  • OLD: Notes (pdf)

Note: I modified this lesson to add a hands-on component with the addition of task cards that students can sort at their desks. I use this lesson as a group work activity to introduce Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures.


  1. Each group will have one set of task cards and one set of ECM? cards to hold up.
  2. Students will sort the items pictured into 4 columns: Elements, Compounds, Mixtures, and “?”. (The “?” category is a temporary place holder for students to discuss further within their group, all items should be sorted before answers are revealed)
  3. Once all the groups have had a chance to discuss and sort the items, we will go over the answers as a class.
  4. Using the ppt, show the first item (Rocks). Ask each group to choose one of the E,C, or M cards.
  5. Have them place the “?” in front of their answer. (this prevents the other groups from seeing their answer) A spokesperson for each group will stand up and hold the ECM? cards.
  6. Ask all the groups to reveal their answer at the same time. Compare answers & discuss.
  7. Reveal the answer and have students record the results in their notes.
  8. If needed, have students move the card to the correct category on their desk, too.
  9. For fun, I award a point to each group that has a correct answer, the kids enjoy a little friendly competition :).
  10. Continue with the next slide (Copper) and repeat.

For more lessons related to Chemistry, click on the Chemistry or Properties of Matter Tabs up above.

Using Lego Bricks: Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures Activity

Exploring Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures using Legos
Exploring Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures using Legos

I use this activity to help students visualize how atoms are used as the building blocks of matter and how matter can be classified as elements, compounds, or mixtures.


  • 12 Legos – 3 different colors and sizes with 4 of each kind
    • Lego Bricks must be the same size for each color (see photo above)
    • stored in sandwich sized zip-top bags
    • 1 set per 2 students
  • colored pencils
    • I placed 3 crayons in each bag along with the Lego pieces
  • handout (pdf)

Background Information

  • Each Lego Brick represents one atom
  • Each colored Lego Brick represents one atom for each element
    • example: 4 blues = one element, 4 oranges = second element, 4 greens represent a third element
  • When Lego Bricks are snapped together, that represents a chemical bond and one compound
  • Lego Bricks that are not snapped together are not chemically bonded to each other
  • For mixtures, you can have combinations of single bricks (elements), bonded bricks (compounds), or a mixture of both elements & compounds