Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Introducing the Periodic Table of Elements!

So if you were with us last week, we introduced the idea of chemistry and zoned in on atoms.  This week we had an icy start to our day, but we were able to still get together, albeit a little later!  Starting out, we built on last weeks' concepts and talked about the elements in the Periodic Table.  I reviewed the the atom, and then explained elements and molecules in more detail then last week.  We then took a big picture view of The Periodic Table and started with a simple project on the break down of the Table.

            *affiliate links are contained in this post for your convenience to replicate projects and activities.*
Understanding Atoms/Elements
We related the elements to the alphabet and molecules to the words we can make.  From 26 letters we can make thousands of words and from about 120 known elements, we can make millions of molecules.  We also talked about how an "a" in the alphabet will always be an "a" no matter what word we find it in.  Likewise, the element Oxygen (O) will always be an Oxygen element, no matter what molecule combination it is in -such as H2O (water) or FE2O3 (rust) -the Oxygen atom is still an Oxygen atom in both combinations and hasn't changed.

Seeing God
I like to help the kids see God in science when I can work it into our activity.  Thanks to a conversation with a friend this week, who shared some ideas as we talked -this was a perfect place for that.  We talked about the things we could see that reflected something of God.
  • Order (elements can be classified and arranged into an order - God is a God of order, not chaos.)
  • Consistency (an Oxygen atom is always going to be an Oxygen atom - Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.)
  • Mathematics (numbers of protons/neutrons/electrons - lots of numbers throughout the Bible) 
  • Individuality (much like fingerprints, no two atoms are alike - we are fearfully and wonderfully made and He knows the hairs on our head and calls us each by name.)
  • Relationships (we compared the relationships within an Atom to those of family and friends.  We talked about how the nucleus of an atom doesn't change and represents the nucleus of your family -you can't change your Mom/Dad/Grandparents/Siblings, they will always be related to you no matter what- likewise, the first electron orbital could be compared to your closest friends of which you only have a few and then as you go out from there, you have a few more friends but not as close to you and then more etc. -out to lots of acquaintances.  Jesus died so we could have a relationship with God and call Him, Abba-Father.)

The Periodic Table Activity
Using the book, The Periodic Table: Elements with Style! by Basher, I explained the overall groupings of elements and how they are placed on The Periodic Table.  We would read a category and they would glue down a color to represent that on their Table.  They wrote the category names on the strips at the end.  The kids enjoyed Basher's playful way of assigning personalities to each of the groups and individual elements.  I highly recommend The Periodic Table: Elements with Style! book for teaching The Periodic Table!  The categories we used were:
  • Hydrogen
  • Alkali Metals
  • Alkaline Earth Metals
  • Transition Elements
  • Boron Elements
  • Carbon Elements
  • Nitrogen Elements
  • Oxygen Elements
  • Halogen Elements
  • Noble Gases
  • Lanthanides
  • Actinides
  • The Super-heavies
When we were done we had a poster like below...

Periodic Table of Elements Game!
We ended our time of instruction with a fun game.  This game is called "Quick Six" and it's a fast paced, fun game, that really helps the kids learn about the PTE.  You can download it for free from  The game gist:  The kids each place 5 cards face up in front of them.  A "caller" says a clue on the given paper of clues.  The first person to slap the table with the correct answer, gets to place their card face down in a "keeper" pile and then draw a new card to replace that one so they still have 5 cards.  The first person to have 6 cards in their "keeper" pile - WINS!  You can play it over and over again.  The are having to read the information about their element cards, in order to try and match the clues given and learning about the elements as they go along!  Wonderfully thought out game and easy to play for most ages!

Norman Rockwell Themed Snack!
Today's snack was themed on the fine arts.  It was a throwback to a quieter time in our Nations' history, much like that of a Norman Rockwell cover for The Post!  We had delicious (or so I was excitedly told) strawberry milkshakes today and we played a fun Element Riddle game while they slurped away on their milkshakes!  
 All in all it was a shorter but still Wonderful Wednesday!


  1. We did a version of this today! My boys are 5 and 7 so I didn't spend as much time on the lesson part and the table wasn't as detailed as it probably could have been, but I didn't want to overwhelm them. Plus, the best thing about this for them was using glue! :) Thanks for this great idea!

    1. Missy - I'm so glad! Sounds like you did a terrific job of adapting it to your needs. That's why I do what I do- to give ideas to families on how to make this hands on learning! Thank you for sharing your comment! Blessings, Colleen

  2. What a fun way to learn about the periodic table! I love how you used Basher's method of assigning personalities to the various groups and elements. It's a great way to remember the elements. I'll have to check out the book when we swing back to chemistry in a few years. :-)

    1. I love how Basher does that! So fun. Thank you for stopping by. Blessings -Colleen