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Forming Ionic Bonds Activities & Games

Instructor: Nora Jarvis

Nora has a Master's degree in teaching, and has taught a variety of elementary grades.

Ionic bonds are an important aspect of your chemistry class or unit. This lesson contains activities and games to help your students understand how ionic bonds happen.

What is an Ionic Bond?

Chemical bonding refers to the different ways that atoms can bond together. There are several different ways this can happen, but this lesson will focus on ionic bonds, which happen when one element donates electrons to another element, resulting in both elements having a full outer shell.

As you teach your students about ionic bonds, it will be important to engage them in active, hands-on lessons that can help information stick in their heads and challenge them to analyze this new information. Below are activities and games that will teach your students about ionic bonds in a creative way.

Ionic Bond Musical Pom Poms

Materials:

  • Large open space
  • Large craft pom poms
  • Tape
  • Music
  • Cards with the following molecules:
    • Lithium and Fluorine
    • Lithium and Chlorine
    • Sodium and Fluorine
    • Potassium and Bromine
    • Magnesium and Sulfur
    • Calcium and Oxygen

Instructions

  • On the floor, use the tape to make two sets of concentric circles next to each other (with four circles total in each circle set). Make as many pairs as you will need when you divide your class into groups of four. Each set of concentric circles will represent one of the elements.
  • Choose one card to model with students, like lithium and fluorine.
    • To model lithium, place two pom poms on the innermost circle and one pom pom on the second circle (the two outer circles will not be used for this atom).
    • To model fluorine, place two pom poms on the innermost circle and seven pom poms on the second circle (the two outer circles will not be used for this atom).
    • Set up the pom poms this way for the remaining pairs of sets.
    • Explain to the students that each pom pom represents an electron.
  • When the music plays, your students will have to talk with each other about how to make the molecules bond together. When the music stops, they'll have to quickly move the pom poms to represent how those two molecules bond. Whichever group finishes first wins the round.
    • For the first round, they'd move a pom pom from the outer (second) circle of the lithium molecule over to the fluorine molecule so that the outer (second) shell of the fluorine molecule is full of electrons. This represents lithium fluoride.
  • Then each team chooses a new card. Then the game will continue: the students will arrange the pom poms to represent each molecule, you will start the music and they will discuss how to make the bond, and then you will stop the music and the students will rearrange the pom poms to represent the ionic bond.
  • Repeat until all of the cards have been played.

Which Ionic Bond Am I?

Materials:

  • Paper bags
  • Notecards with different ionic bonds (such as the ones listed in the previous activity)

Instructions:

  • Divide students into pairs and give each pair a paper bag with the notecards inside.
  • One student pulls an ionic bond from the bag and tries to get their partner to guess which ionic compound it is. They may tell their partner one of the elements, but not the other. They may also say how many electrons are shared.
  • When the second student has guessed correctly, they exchange roles.

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