Worksheets and lesson ideas to challenge students aged 11 to 16 to think hard about elements and compounds (GCSE and Key Stage 3)
Where to start?
Start by bringing elements to life. Place various elements around the classroom e.g. iron, helium, silver and graphite. Ask students to record their appearance and state of matter. Ask students to locate the elements on the periodic table. What is the relationship between the position on the periodic table and their physical properties? Where are metals and non-metals? Where are shiny things located? Now make students learn the first 20 elements and chant them back as a whole class – they will enjoy this more than you might think!
Discovery of elements
Elements of the periodic table – The Chemist’s Castle
KS3 worksheet on elements and their symbols. Students read a story about a chemist’s castle. It lists elements for them to find in the periodic table. The activity asks students to use symbols and names for elements. This is a fun and creative way to introduce students to elements and where they are located in the periodic table. Students can write their own stories, using their own choice of elements. (PDF)
One of the best ways to introduce the concepts of chemical reactions, mixtures, elements and compounds is to perform the classic demonstration of reacting iron with sulphur. This is a powerful way for the students to visualise that the product, iron (II) sulphide, bears no resemblance to either sulphur or iron.
Building models of atoms, elements and compounds
KS3 activity on atoms, elements and compounds. Many GCSE and even A Level students are not clear on the difference between atoms, elements, compounds and molecules. This simple activity supports an understanding of these concepts. Students use a simple billiard ball model to build elements, compounds and molecules. The activity can be extended for students to build models of molecules from chemical formulae and is easy to access. If you are feeling adventurous try creating particles from marshmallows. (PDF)
Element, mixture or compound?
Key Stage 3 worksheet to identify elements, mixtures and compounds from particle pictures. This is a quick diagnostic task to see if students can use particle pictures to represent elements, mixtures and compounds. (PDF)
You are stardust
- Does a single atom of copper in a wire have similar or different properties to a single atom of copper vapour?
- How could you prove that glucose is not an element?
- How many elements, compounds and atoms are here: CH3COOH?
- Kaiser, N. (2018). How to teach elements and compounds.
- Particle pictures and the particle model
- Particles and gas pressure
- Elements mixtures and compounds
- Separating techniques