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Physical Science

Periodic Table

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Shontell Davis Shontell Davis 2175 Points

I'm looking for the best way to teach the periodic table structure to 6th grade. My experience has been on the 9th grade level, so I'm not real sure how to approach the subject. 

Lory Hernandez Lory Hernandez 1183 Points

Shontell, I too find it hard to actually teach a periodic table. I think maybe you could introduce the elements and see if students can find similarities and differences between them. They can write these points on a vend diagram to help them visualize them better. This could be implemented in the "hook" of the lesson to get them engaged!

Mary Shannon Mary Shannon 10 Points

Hi Ms. Shontell, I am wondering if you ever found the best way to teach the periodic table? If so, can you give me examples on how you approached the subject? Can you also give me some feedback on how your students reacted to your instruction on the topic? Thanks so much and I look forward on hearing back from you! Sincerely, Mary Shannon

Toneka Bussey Toneka Bussey 38 Points

Look up the songs and the app.  They are quite interesting!

Emily Faulconer Faulconer 5755 Points

I cannot find my original source of the lesson plan but I use something like this: 

You could likely modify it for the 6th grade level. This lesson plan is intended for high school chemistry. 

Faith Slinger Faith Slinger 2470 Points

I would suggest using a interactive periodic table online. I have found various good and reliable interative periodic tables online, so there might even be some for younger students too. Also puzzles help me learn and songs. So possibly coming up with a song to teach the periodic table could be a new and fun strategy. Hope you find a strategy that works for you! Have a great day!

Alma Nieto Alma Nieto 70 Points

Hi Shontell Davis!

I believe providing a picture to each element of the periodic table would help the students learn. For example, fo the elemnt Hydrogen you can put a studentd waving his hand saying 'hi' (Hidrogen). Little things like that can engange the students and I feel its a fun way to teach and for the students to learn. 

McKayla Guerra McKayla Guerra 70 Points

Hi Shontell Davis!


I remember my 6th grade teacher allowing each student draw an element at random and be paired with that element for further research. Research included the scientific name, number, symbol, images, and uses of the element. We as well designed 'trading cards' of our element to show other students. Afterwards we presented our research to the class. It was a very memorable activity! 

Maura Purcell Maura Purcell 1250 Points

I'm teaching HS currently, I use Crash Course videos to help reenforce the lessons. In them I noticed that each element is it's own little cartoon personification, they are really cute. I think younger kids might like coming up with little element characters that describe qualities of the elements. Crash Course also sells a periodic table psoter with all the little animations in them. 

James Johnson James Johnson 95308 Points

Hi Shontell! With the 6th Graders, I always tried to make it as much fun as possible. hey - this works with the 7th Graders and 8th and 9th 10th 11th and 12th, as well. Any way, with the 6th Graders I always tried to engage them in a fun way and one way is with a goofy song which will give you a chance to explain the parts of the nucleus, protons, neutrons, and electrons. Then you can talk about outer shells which dictate reactivity and chemical properties and that leads you into why there are rows and columns. Have fun :)

Luz Alonzo Luz Alonzo 380 Points

Thank you for sharing! I also had a bit of trouble learning the periodic table, but I find the video really helpful and engaged. This will definitely work with any grade level. Always having a fun activity/ hands on in the classroom will definitely help the students understand the material. I know when I was in middle/high school it was usually paper and pencil which i think that's why I had difficult understanding the topic. Science has been my strongest, but just not that topic about the periodic table that took me a couple of years to understand and learn each one of them. Once, again thank you for your suggestions I really appreciate it :D

Cherie Maser Cherie Maser 90 Points

I taught 6th grade last year. We made a human periodic table by students decorating a tshirt as an element. The students had a fashion show showing off their element shirts. On the front was the bohr model of the atom. All of the information from the periodic table. atomic weight, number electrons, neutrons, protons. Then we had the students place drawings of items made of the element on the back with 5 fun facts. On the left sleeve they placed the group number of where their element is placed. On the Right they wrote the name of the group their element is classified in such as Noble gasses. Students had alot of fun trying to complete their shirts. It took 3 class periods for working on shirts and 1.5 presenting.

Cherie Maser Cherie Maser 90 Points

Brian Hamilton Brian Hamilton 2280 Points

I've also struggled with the teaching of the periodic table but I do use the music video, "Meet the Elements," by They Might Be Giants to introduce the concept. The students seem to enjoy it: I'm interested to read on this thread what other people do with this topic. Brian Hamilton

Katarina Cohen Katarina Cohen 30 Points

In line with the videos suggested, PBS has a really interesting and fun documentary called Hunting the Elements. Clips from this could be used to help engage the students before really delving into the periodic table. Nova also has an online, interactive periodic table to explore properties of different elements.

Another fun activity could be turning each element into a super hero. Students each select one element and then design a super hero based off of the properties of each element. They also can include important information about the element, like atomic mass, atomic number, and so on.

Good luck!

Jennifer Hicks Jennifer Hicks 680 Points

The super hero activity is really a lot of fun.  I have done this for years.  At first some student protest because they think they are not creative enough.  With some encouragement and seeing what their fellow classmates have created, they dive in and create wonderful super heros.  Another activity my classes have found to be fun which helps they learn the elements, is creating a children's book about a particular element.  They have to illustrate as well as include facts like mass, neighboring elements in the period and family, uses, availability on earth, etc.  Using art projects to learn the periodic table is a great way to differentiate for all students.

Jennifer Mathes Jennifer Mathes 20 Points

I recently observed a 4th grade classroom learning about the periodic table and noticed a few things NOT to do from that experience. The students drew their own periodic tables and colored in each element a different color, then copied down their atomic number and weights. Though the parts of the atom and the ways the elements differed in each group was gone over briefly, I think it would have been more beneficial to the students to have a richer discussion of these topics, with less focus on drawing their tabes. Perhaps a matching game, as said previously would be more engaging and promote deeper understanding of the parts of the table. Another fun activity would be passing around different elements, I know there are a few kits you can order online that have actual specimens of many of the elements. Good luck!

Raquel Dugan-Dibble Raquel Dugan-Dibble 1120 Points

I have used a few techniques that have really helped.   One of them is Periodic Table Battleship.   This was even fun for the Chemistry students.   I also have an interactive Periodic Table that they can log in with their cellphone and pull up realistic examples of the elements.  I have also found interactive tables online.  I also have written the elements out on index cards and they have to split into groups and the first team to lay them out correctly on the floor is the winner!

Raquel Dugan-Dibble Raquel Dugan-Dibble 1120 Points

I have also found a couple of youtube videos on Periodic Table rap songs.  There is also the Periodic Table Song you can find online.  I incorporate as many visual learning resources that I can!

Raquel Dugan-Dibble Raquel Dugan-Dibble 1120 Points


Shontell Davis Shontell Davis 2175 Points

Love the idea with the idex cards! I will try that next year for sure.

Shontell Davis Shontell Davis 2175 Points

Sorry for the late response...I did find some cool intro songs to get the students started thinking about the periodic table. I finally decided to utililze a color coding system to cover the basic components of the periodic table. My department came up with a plan for me to just cover the structure of the periodic table and they would go into more details the next two years (building on what I covered). We were testing out a possible plan for next year where the 6th grade would concentrate on building an informaional foundation, 7th grade will develop connections to and from the foundation, and 8th grade would work on making it relevant to the students. It will take three years to see if this is a good plan, but forward thinking takes time.

Robert Chesbro Robert Chesbro 150 Points

Here's a fun assessment that serves as a meaningful learning activity.


Check it out:


Other great resources here too!

Justice Taylor Justice Taylor 1155 Points

When I was learning the periodic table, we focused on many different things to help different learners. Our teacher had us watch videos, listen to songs, work with puzzles, highlight the different sections of the table in different colors, and do interactive tables online. The puzzles and the songs helped me a lot and was very entertaining as well. You could try to ask your students which strategy they would perfer. You could also have the students do each of the different strategies and have them explain why or why not they liked the strategies and which was their favorite and least favorite. This helps gain a better understanding of the lessons and helps the teacher know what kind of learner each student is.

Debbie Rydalch Debbie Morgan 954 Points

Sometimes it's fun to just get students looking at patterns on the table and talking about the elements they recognize. A great way to get students investigating the periodic table  if they've never looked at it before is to play battleship. This is a great site to help you set up your own classroom set of periodic table battleship games.


Jennifer Hicks Jennifer Hicks 680 Points

There are a lot of wondreful games that cam be played to teach students about the periodic table.  The Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility website has quite a few links that will help a teacher plan for a game day.  This site has : word puzzles, hangman, concentration, flash cards and a balancing game.  I found this to be a great site!

Nazae Craw Nazae Craw 5230 Points

The periodic table is something that students will cover for a number of years throughout middle and high school. To introduce and go into great detail for such young students may be overwhelming at first. Personally, I believe the best idea is to focus on the most common elements first, and then focus on the different types of element groups. This can be done in a number of ways including, seperating the elements by color to visually see and recognize the differences. Another great idea would be to incorporate songs as many have said. Songs have proven to provide a different way of learning for students and including various teaching methods and tools is best for the students. 

Brandon Ramirez Brandon Ramirez 685 Points

Whichever of these many wonderful ideas you choose, make sure you start out with the History of how the Periodic Table came to be!

Dimitri Mendeleev

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