Periodic Table Cards, amazing Inquiry results/resource

Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:37 PM

Hello all,

I have just taught an AMAZING couple of lessons using a fantastic set of playing cards and two inquiry lesson plans by an exhibitor who gave a workshop at the NSTA Conference in New Orleans. (Living by Chemistry, Key Curriculum Press)

The cards are astounding: using them I (my students too LOL) have discovered new trends in the Periodic Table - even though I have a Bachelors in Chemistry, and I really thought I was done learning about the PT!

What was particularly amazing about the activity was that when I did evaluation quizes, the kids who generally struggle got FULL MARKS, whereas some of my bright bunnies who are in the 95th percentile MISSED points... my lowest score was 8/10 for a quiz on inquiry material that NONE of these students had prior knowledge of. (These scores are very very unusual for my classes, on ANY type of quiz.)

I got a pack of these Periodic Table cards and the first book of lesson plans int he Living by Chemistry series free when I attended the Living by Chemistry workshop (NSTA Conference, New Orleans), and I was lucky enough to win a class set of the Periodic Table cards (six packs) in their 'door prize' draw. If anyone gets the chance to get hold of these materials, (e.g., attend a workshop if they are exhibiting again?)GO FOR IT.

My Principal is hoping to buy me more of the Living by Chemistry didactic materials/books at the end of the year when he sees what is left in the school money pot as the results of these inquiry activities so far are astounding.

I am a chemist by training, and these materials are the BEST way to teach chemistry that I have yet encountered in Europe or in Florida.

I am not doing this posting as an advertisement, but as a public service to our students - if more teachers/districts were using these materials/lesson plans in their Chemistry curriculum, there would be a lot more QUALITY Chemistry being ENJOYED by all concerned.

Has anyone else had these type of results with the Living by Chemistry materials?


Rebecca Jane Austin-Datta
Rebecca Austin Datta
3515 Activity Points

Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:50 PM


I did a bit of poking about the web and learned that Living By Chemistry was developed by the chem ed group at Berkeley.
The resources available through key press are quite expensive.

I have heard Dr Stacy (Berkeley speak) She is very impressive. Here she is on YouTube talking about the program

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68500 Activity Points

Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:47 PM

The Jefferson Lab in VA has a neat site that has some science games, many developed by teachers during summer science internships. Visit the lab site and look at some of their free things they have to share.

You could perhaps make your own cards or have the students make them for this year and future classes to use.

Element Games

Element Flash Cards - Learn the names and symbols of the elements!

Element Math Game - Calculate the number of protons, neutrons or electrons in an atom based on information from the Periodic Table of Elements!

Element Balancing Game - Practice balancing chemical equations by picking the correct coefficients!

Element Hangman - Discover which element the computer has picked by guessing the letters in its name!

Element Crossword Puzzles - Use the clues provided to solve each crossword puzzle!

Element Word Scramble - Use the clues provided to unscramble the name of an element!

Element Concentration - Challenge your memory and your knowledge of the elements!

Element Matching Game - Match an element's name to its symbol!

You can also download a periodic table to share with students or to print out for them to use. AND there are several element card games and flash cards to make.

Download a printable version of the Periodic Table of Elements in PDF format:

Color versions: Basic / Advanced

Black and White versions: Basic / Advanced

The following on-line games based on the Periodic Table of Elements are available:
Element Flash Cards Element Hangman Element Matching
Element Math Element Crossword Puzzles Element Concentration
Element Balancing Element Word Scramble

The following paper-based activities are available:
Element BINGO Element Word Search


Patricia Rourke
Patricia Rourke
45890 Activity Points

Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:12 AM

I just presented at a workshop on Saturday featuring lessons/information using technology. I work in a school with 1:1 iPads for students. One of the presenters showed us The Periodic Table of Videos. It's a fantastic source for students that have such technology (a smart phone works as well). Students just scan the QR Code for an element and it links them to a video for the element. It's great for research and very informative. Here is the link:

Joy Long
Joy Long
295 Activity Points

Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:56 PM

Hi Joy,

Excellent resource and what a fun way to help our scholars explore the elements. Technology not only allows us to do different things, but to do things differently. I, too, am at a school with a 1:1 ratio of iPads (as you are aware) and I wish I had this resource during our chemistry unit. Thanks so very much for sharing this with us...and keep the good stuff coming. I am very appreciative of your efforts in helping 'Science Matter' to our scholars in Prince George's County.


Lorrie Armfield
Lorrie Armfield
51413 Activity Points

Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:15 AM

I teach 8th grade science and I had a "science matters" sign on my door that had some of the letters from the periodic table. My kids didn't knoww what those letters were and what it represented. Thank you for the resources that are listed here, I didn't think I was going to have to teach the periodic table but after the other day I realized that I needed to have a lesson on the table.

Kelly Amendola
Kelly Amendola
10310 Activity Points

Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:11 PM

Kelly, I like the idea of 'Science Matters' on the door and using letters from the Periodic Table (Elements). I actually teach Chemistry to my 8th grades for 6 weeks, and this would be a great way to get their inquiry juices flowing. Nice introduction to the Periodic Table...even before they enter the doors of the classroom.

Thanks for the idea.


Lorrie Armfield
Lorrie Armfield
51413 Activity Points

Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:13 PM

You mean there are other ways to learn the periodic table besides the weeks it took me to memorize that thing in 11th grade?

I am curious about these cards. I am going to look it up. I noticed someone said they were expensive. I wonder if they are "makable"

Yes? No?

Brandy Stewart
Brandy Stewart
7755 Activity Points

Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:13 PM

I, too, am curious about the periodic table cards. My scholars create a huge 'Periodic Table' using the Dinah Zike's Science Big Book of Foldables' template. They had such a good time exploring the elements and 'Adopting an Element', but I am very interested in finding out more about the cards. I think it would be an excellent resource in which to engage my scholars in chemistry.

Lorrie Armfield
Lorrie Armfield
51413 Activity Points

Sat Jan 21, 2012 12:31 PM

This month I was able to update my classroom size wall periodic table with a more current one. The "old" one was a two-sided periodic table and it had such great information on both sides (e.g. melting and boiling points, heat of fusion and vaporization, electronegativity, electron configurations, historical information, common uses, derivation of the element name, and abundance of the element in Earth's crust). It felt wasteful just to throw it away. I knew we should recycle the old periodic table. I remembered this thread and decided to use the table to make element cards. I had my student aide cut it into the individual element squares. I'm going to use them next year during our periodicity unit. Since the two sides of the table did not match up perfectly, I did have to pick one of the sides. I chose the side that was not on display in my classroom.

Ruth Hutson
Ruth Hutson
58285 Activity Points

Sat Jan 21, 2012 2:39 PM

Hi Ruth, if you get a chance, I would love to see a photo of your 'updated' periodic table display. I imagine it looks absolutely awesome!


Lorrie Armfield
Lorrie Armfield
51413 Activity Points

Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:38 PM

I teach elements to sixth graders and I found that they really enjoy making element super heros. The students select an element, usually elements 1-30, and research that specific element. They are then required to: 1)create a name (Carbonator, Calcium Man) 2)find the super hero's powers (freezing point, boiling point, atomic weight, where it is on the periodic table. 3)what their super hero fights for (uses for the element in reality, creating it in a fictional perspective using real research information) 4) villains (what elements get together with your element to make it dangerous/poisonous or the dangerous uses or effects of the element) 5)Allies (what other elements works well with your element to become useful, positive uses, chemical equation, how does is "save" people in distress?) The students love doing this activity and are allowed to show their creative side.

Cristey Kagawa
Cristey Kagawa
2970 Activity Points

Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:30 PM

Lorrie wrote, "if you get a chance, I would love to see a photo of your 'updated' periodic table display. I imagine it looks absolutely awesome!"

Hi Lorrie,
The periodic table I had before was from 1998. It was outdated...for example, elements 111 and 112 were unnamed. 114 was predicted, but the remaining spaces for elements 113-118 were blank. I simply ordered my new periodic table from a science supply company. It just reflects the current model. 111 and 112 are named (Rg and Cn respectively) and elements 113 through 118 are predicted. Since there are proposals before IUPAC to name elements 114 and 116, I will have my students make new boxes in a computer drawing program when those names are formally adopted. We will laminate them and attached them to the table with sticky velcro dots. I will probably wait to upload a picture until they finish those boxes.

I also use velcro dots to attach other information to the periodic table (e.g. the charge of the valence electrons for ionic compounds. Lewis dot notation for columns, s, p, d, and f orbitals, and family names). Since I am using velcro, these are easily removed as we move from unit to unit throughout the year.

Ruth Hutson
Ruth Hutson
58285 Activity Points

Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:21 PM

Thanks for the update Ruth. I absolutely love the idea of using velcro dots to show the charge of the valence electrons for ionic compounds, and Lewis dot notation for columns, s, p, d, and f orbitals, and family names.

Look forward to seeing the completed product. In the meantime, you have given me yet even more suggestions on how to make my 'Class Periodic Table' come alive.


Lorrie Armfield
Lorrie Armfield
51413 Activity Points

Thu Feb 02, 2012 3:32 AM

Cristey I love your superhero idea. Do you have a handout you give to the 6th graders that you can share? Also, I remember seeing some click-together color-coded plastic pieces of the periodic table that students can assemble into a large size periodic table, but can't find it anywhere on the internet. Wondering if you've come across something like that?

Sharon Chern
Sharon Chern
2640 Activity Points

Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:14 PM

I can not recall where I originally got this. I use this in my class for pre-certification teachers
Element Baby Book
In this project you will adopt an element from the periodic table. The element that you
choose must have an atomic number from 1 – 20. As a proud parent of your element you will create a baby book to remember each stage of your element’s life.
Sources of Information:
Websites to help you in your search (I will provide these.)
The periodic table in your book will give you some information.
(Check each one as you complete it.)
_____Cover page
Name of element and your name
Decorative cover
_____Page 1 This should be written in paragraph form.

Name of element (Give your element a first name)
Nickname of element (Symbol)
Birth date (date element was discovered)
Birth weight (atomic mass)
Birth height (atomic number)
Race (type of element)
Attending physician (Discoverer)
Gender (state of matter at room temperature)
Place of birth (country of discovery)
Personality (emotions: boiling point and melting point)
Page 2
Pronunciation rebus
Page 3
Fill out birth certificate and have parents sign
Page 4
Picture of element
# of protons is body
# of neutrons is legs
# of electrons is arm
Atomic number is head
Page 5
Poem about element
Page 6
Draw picture of all family members like on page 4.
Family Name (family or group)
Address (period + discoverer’s last name + drive, lane, circle,
court, road, or way)
Brothers and Sisters (Names of family members)
Page 7
Picture of element (Bohr model)
Page 8
Career of element (what your element will become when grows up)
Picture of career
Complete ALL requirements!
Be creative!
Be neat!
Use color!
Punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and grammar must be accurate

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68500 Activity Points

Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:53 PM

Wow! I love all these new ideas about teaching and exploring the periodic table. I am excited to create Baby Books with my Chemistry students this semester. I am drawn to the notion of an element's "brothers and sisters" and address, named after the discoverer. Thank you for the suggestions. I am also intrigued by the amazing periodic table cards mentioned earlier in this thread -- please, if anyone finds out more information, keep sharing!

Up until now I have always done the Human Element Project, where students model themselves as elements. They name themselves (examples: AusTIN, Kathlithium, Jessicon), tell which period they're in (their height), and describe their melting and boiling points (what makes them give up, and what makes them try harder). They also include when/where they were discovered (birthdate and birthplace), what other "elements" they react with, and where they are commonly found (places they hang out). My students enjoy this project because it allows them to share about themselves and to make something creative. With that said, I like the ideas I've seen in this thread since they are more fundamentally science-based.

Francesca DePasquale
Francesca DePasquale
680 Activity Points

Sat Feb 04, 2012 4:34 AM

I taught 4 classes of Physical Science my first year teaching science and I had a hard time with the physical part, but a much easier time with the chemistry part. When it came to the periodic table, I just found worksheets and short activities to do with my students to help them learn the table. I have found that the worksheets that have the students coloring are the ones that they remember most. I would like to see what those "cards" look like, but if they are expensive I will probably not ever be able to have them unless they are makeable. For our culminating activity, each student had to research a specific element on the periodic table and make a poster about it to present to the class. I had them choose the element they wanted, but only one person could have a specific element. After all the posters were finished, we stapled them to the walls of the classroom and made a huge periodic table. We used filler posters for the elements that were not used. It looked really cool and the students enjoyed doing the activity.

Tina Alcain
Tina Alcain
3305 Activity Points

Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:20 PM

I've never heard of the Living by Chemistry series, but I will definitely check it out. It sounds very hands-on. I teach 9th grade Physical Science and my students often have a hard time with the abstract nature of atomic structure and the periodic table.

Another resource I have found that is very useful is "". They have an entire chapter on the periodic table that has some really cool problem-based activities. It was very helpful for my students last year. It is geared toward middle school level, so it is somewhat basic.

Sarah Henley
Sarah Henley
905 Activity Points

Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:25 PM

Hi, one year I had the students create an actual table top periodic table. They had to scale it out and fill in each space with information about each of the different elements. The students loved making it and it did last a couple of years before it succombed to fading and doodling. It did give new meaning to the term, refer to the periodic table. Its a good idea,but I don't think I could pull off the baby element idea. I do think however that I could use something like Cristey's superhero lesson. My kids are older and I think they would really enjoy this teaching method. Thanks for the details on how you set up the lesson. They would never forget it and I think it is really important to encourage the students creativity. (I have watched the ken robinson video on TED) Thanks for the ideas.

Vincent Lowery
Vincent Lowery
2750 Activity Points

Sat Feb 18, 2012 7:53 PM

I have used a Periodic Table Activity in my class for years. I am not sure how it compares to the one mentioned in this post but I have the following properties listed on 2 x 3 cards for elements 1-54: electron configuration, oxidation number, atomic radius, ionization energy, physical state, and electronegativity. The students are given instructions on the trends in the periodic table observed in these properties. They have to work in pairs to assemble the cards in the correct order.
I have found that all my students are engaged in this activity and the vast majority learn quite a bit about the periodic table. I use it before I teach electron configuration since once they know what that is they can easily assemble the cards.
Since the trends in the table are general and not perfect trends, there are some areas (transition metals) that students need a little help. When this happens I tell them how to use the electron configuration to determine the number of electrons, and thus the atomic number. This has helped give them a little foreshadowing of what electron configuration is all about.

The cards I use and the instructions are available below.

I would love some feedback from anyone interested in trying the activity!

David Heldt
David Heldt
150 Activity Points

Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:20 PM

Hi David, thanks or sharing your periodic table lesson pdf files! I won't be teaching matter till April but will try it with my physical science class and let you know what happens!

Sharon Chern
Sharon Chern
2640 Activity Points

Tue Feb 21, 2012 2:08 PM

What wonderful ideas on how to teach the periodic table! I was wondering if the Living Chemistry series is appropriate for middle school science specifically sixth grade? Sixth grade is still taught at our elementary school and our teachers are always looking for science resources.

In sixth grade, students are expected to describe the organization of the periodic table. has a pretty good explanation that is easy for students to understand. Check it out at:

I’m also looking at purchasing Dinah Zike’s Big Book of Science for Elementary K-6 that Lorrie uses in her class. I love Cristey’s idea of having students make element super heroes. I will definitely pass on these suggestions to my grade level teachers!


Dawn Nishimoto
Dawn Nishimoto
3015 Activity Points

Wed Feb 22, 2012 4:24 PM

>Pam, That is so cool that you do a "baby book" for elements. My 8th graders work in groups to do a Family Scrapbook for families of elements (because they do element books in 6th grade) where they are supposed look up properties of the families and the elements that belong to them. They can also use descriptions for families like "really active!" for halogens or "family with step children" for the carbon family (with it's non-metal, metalloids, and metals).
I gave them some suggested websites and books and they provided me with additional websites they found information in their references. I then have them jigsaw and share what they learn about their families with other students and students make a chart of general information for each family that way.

10 points - name of the family and of the elements
10 points for physical properties shared by the elements
10 points for chemical properties OR 2-3 different elements that members of the family like to "hang out with" (like forms oxides, found with halites, etc.)
10 points for uses ("typical Jobs") for the elements/family
5 point for pictures
5 points for neatness/creativity
5 - 10 points (depending on the group) for spelling and grammar

I attached one I made to show them some general ideas but they actually put pictures of their elements "posed" in front of a bookcase for a "family portrait" or on the beach "on vacation"


Tina Harris
Tina Harris
65560 Activity Points

Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:55 AM

I have used the attached periodic table basics in my lessons. I have students create a table of the first 20 elements look at the arrangement and explain the organization


ptablebasics2.pdf (0.02 Mb)

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68500 Activity Points

Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:58 AM

I have no idea why only one file shows at a time. I guess I will need to post individually


Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68500 Activity Points

Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:59 AM

Here is the first of two crossword puzzles


ptblpuzzle.pdf (0.01 Mb)

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68500 Activity Points

Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:00 PM

And the answers


ptblpuzzleansw.pdf (0.00 Mb)

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68500 Activity Points

Thu Mar 01, 2012 10:42 PM

I thought that it might be useful if I grouped the resources mentioned here and elsewhere in to a collection. I have shared the collection here and also made it public in the Learning Center.

Periodic Table Resources Collection
(12 items)
Periodic Table Live
     -User Uploaded Resource
Visual Elements
     -User Uploaded Resource
Its All On the Table
     -User Uploaded Resource

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68500 Activity Points

Sat Mar 24, 2012 2:30 AM

I'm intrigued by this post and by the "Living by Chemistry" series. I became fairly well acquainted with Dr. Stacy while I was at UC Berkeley, but I didn't know she had a text book out. She will be presenting at the conference in Indianapolis, if any one is interested in getting more information about the Living by Chemistry series. I am planning on being there!

Eric Carlson
Eric Carlson
30030 Activity Points

Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:28 AM

I really love teaching earth and life science most of all...but after reading this thread I think I want to teach chemistry again! What an awesome collection of resources.

Once upon a time, the TN 7th grade science standard included a small section on chemistry. I noticed mention of the subshells (s, p, d, f) above and was curious if middle school teachers were addressing these. I know I didn't. I did mention them, and told them that it would be covered in high school, but for at the time we were going to focus on energy levels and basic properties of elements.

Thanks for sharing!

Kendra Young
Kendra Young
16980 Activity Points

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