Introduction to the Periodic Table

Just finished reading The Disappearing Spoon* for the second time.  Fascinating history of the periodic table.  I have learned so much about the periodic table!  I’m preparing to teach some basic chemistry to my children next semester and I needed to study for myself.

I would like to share some of what I have learned and how I plan to teach this to my kids and the kids in our co-op.  I had thought I should create a teaching video – but I’ve found one done way better than I could do.  He begins his lecture mentioning The Disappearing Spoon as well.

Plans for Teaching this Information to my Kids

As part of Classical Conversations, we will be learning some basic definitions of elements, atomic number and parts of an atom. We will also be learning the first twelve elements on the periodic table.

In addition, I am going to add memory work (for my older children) based on the video above. We are going to learn the basic groupings on the periodic table.

Nobel Gases, Halogens, Alkali, Alkalines, Transition Metals, and CHNOPS. First we will learn where to look for them on the periodic table. I am not planning on memorizing the entire periodic table, but rather learning the names of the groupings. If your student easily mastered these, then move on to the other groups.

We will make models of atoms.  The projects we did in the past just showed the number of electrons, neutrons, and protons in an atom.  For older kids, we can model it with electron shells and show + and – signs to show the charges.

Download Elements Explained Lesson

This short lesson plan includes models of atoms for elements 1-12, with explanations and definitions. It also includes a link to printable flashcards and printable blank atom models for student use.


Some Other Fun Activities Relating to the Periodic Table


Learn more about each element with Haiku poems for each element on the periodic table.

Download Elements Explained Lesson

Make an Atom Model





The Disappearing Spoon does contain some questionable “science.”  Theories about the age of the universe and the earth and about how the universe was formed are treated as facts.  I still enjoyed the book and learned a lot about elements and about the history of the periodic table.

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