Periodic Table Lesson Plan

Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Use's video lesson on the Periodic Table to introduce how elements are organized and allow students to explore how they would create their own periodic table. By the end of the lesson, students should understand that elements are organized based on similar properties.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Understand that the periodic table is a way to sort elements
  • Understand that elements are placed on the periodic table due to similar properties
  • Identify a period and a group on the periodic table
  • List at least three metals, nonmetals and metalloids
  • List at least two properties of each: metals, nonmetals and metalloids


60-85 minutes depending on age group/prior knowledge


  • Depending on the size of your learning group, enough objects for each individual (or team of 2-3) to have ten objects. Objects can be whatever you have available. Examples include: shells, rocks, feathers, cut up fruit, candy, office supplies (tacks, paperclips, staples), donuts, and jellybeans.
  • A large piece of butcher paper for each individual (or team) to sort their objects.
  • Photocopied periodic tables (one for each student).
  • Highlighters and makers (or students can just use pencils).
  • A large periodic table that shows metals, nonmetals and metalloids.

Curriculum Standards

Grade 6-8


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.


Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).


  • For a collaborative option, start by placing the students into teams of 2-3, depending on the size of your group. Alternatively, students can complete these tasks independently.
  • Give each student (or team) 10 objects and a large piece of paper to sort these objects on. Tell students they are going to make a periodic table of candy, or a periodic table of rocks, etc.
  • Depending on the grade level and ability of your students, you can give more or less instruction. For example, you can be vague and say, 'use the paper to sort the objects' or you can be more specific and say 'use the paper to sort the objects so an alien could understand more about them. Hints: use color, size, weight, shape and place similar objects on one side of the paper.' You can tell them to sort objects in rows, columns, etc., or you can be more vague and let them explore.
  • Once students have organized the objects, take a moment to have them share why they placed objects together. For example, maybe they placed skittles and m&ms together because they are the same size, or maybe they placed all of the white rocks together because they are the same color.
  • After they are all done, hand out the photocopied periodic tables to each student. Explain that the periodic table is theirs to keep, and they are going to highlight/write notes on it during the lesson.
  • Start the following video, The Periodic Table: Properties of Groups and Periods.
  • Pause it at 1:16 and have students highlight the atomic number on one of the elements (hydrogen may be easiest) and write the words 'atomic number is the number of protons' next to the number. Continue the video.
  • Stop the video at 2:00 and tell the students that they were just, like Mendeleev, when they created their periodic table! Continue the video.
  • Stop the video at 2:26 and have students highlight a row and write 'period'. Stop the video at 4:29 and have students highlight a column and write 'group'.
  • Take a moment to have students look at the periodic tables they created to see if their periodic table has any similarities to the real periodic table. Did they organize anything in groups or periods? Continue the video.
  • Stop the video at 5:10 and have students color in the metals. You may have to project or provide poster-size options so students can specifically see which elements are metals, nonmetals and metalloids. Continue the video and stop at 5:30 and have students color in nonmetals. Finally stop the video at 6:06 and have students color in metalloids.


  • Ask students to identify periods, groups, atomic numbers and metals, nonmetals and metalloids of specific elements.
  • Have students redo their periodic tables (of candy, feathers, etc.) and try to make them more informative (by placing those with similar properties in groups).

Related Lessons

There are numerous lessons available for more in depth periodic table instruction. See for lessons on many of the groups including:

Looking for more resources? Science worksheets let students practice concepts while you check for understanding.

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