Elements and Compounds Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan is for high school chemistry and intended to help their students understand the difference between elements and compounds. Through these activities, students will learn to distinguish molecules, compounds, and mixtures.

Learning Objectives

  • define and provide examples of molecules, compounds, and mixtures
  • create a compound and a mixture


This lesson will take approximately 45-90 minutes.

Curriculum Standards


Construct and revise an explanation for the outcome of a simple chemical reaction based on the outermost electron states of atoms, trends in the periodic table, and knowledge of the patterns of chemical properties.


Develop a model to illustrate that the release or absorption of energy from a chemical reaction system depends upon the changes in total bond energy.


  • compound
  • element
  • mixture
  • molecule

Lesson Instructions

Materials needed

  • chart paper
  • markers

Activate prior knowledge by asking students what they know about molecules. Create a list on chart paper of student responses.

Watch the lesson How Compounds and Molecules Are Built From Elements as a class.

Pause at 3:10. Ask students what they can add to the chart about molecules after listening to the first part of the lesson. Encourage students to describe the difference between a single element and a multi-element molecule.

Watch the remainder of the lesson as a class.

Ask students to explain the difference between a mixture and a compound.

Divide students into small groups. Have students work together to create a T-chart that lists examples of compounds on one side and mixtures on the other side.

Use the lesson's printable worksheet to check for understanding.

Mixture or Compound Demo

Materials needed

  • iron filings
  • sulfur
  • magnets
  • beakers
  • burners
  • safety equipment

Divide students into pairs. Provide each pair with a set of materials. Have students mix together 3.5 grams of iron filings and 2 grams of sulfur.

  • Is this a compound or a mixture? How do you know?

(Teacher note: It is a mixture because it can be separated.)

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