Balancing Equations: A Hands on Activity


Balancing Chemical Equations Activity – one of my long time favorite activities. Students will learn how to read formulas, count atoms, create and read chemical equations, and balance chemical equations using a hands on activity with color coded formulas cards.


Lesson Resources: Create one set of materials for each pair of students. Store in a large zip-top bag

  • Worksheet: handout with directions (pdf)
  • Formula cards (pdf) – laminate and reuse each year
  • Coefficient cards (pdf) – laminate and reuse each year
  • Answer Key for the balanced equations (pdf)
  • Google Slides (NEW) – Balancing Equations Answer Key Public Link
    • These slides can be used to review answers at the end of the lesson
    • You can also print the slides then laminate to use as Task Cards at a hands on station with beads to represent each atom
    • For more advanced students, you can use molecular models and build each model.
  • Practice balancing equations worksheet (pdf) and more from




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 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.