Try this game and lesson plan for 14–16 year olds to reinforce students’ understanding of bonding and its relation to the physical properties of substances

A ‘bingo’ type game helps students to check and reinforce what they have learned about bonding and the links between bonding and physical properties of substances. By devising and answering questions in a competitive environment their understanding about some substances is reinforced.

This activity would be particularly useful for checking learning towards the end of teaching this topic or when revising for an external assessment.

Learning objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Describe the bonding and the physical properties associated with ionic, simple covalent, giant covalent and metallic structures.

Sequence of activities


  1. Take table tennis balls, with numbers written on them, out of a container with suitable comments such as ‘number one – Kelly’s eye’, or ’unlucky for some – number 13’.
  2. Now explain the purpose of the session.

Similarities and differences

Distribute mini whiteboards to the students and ask them to:

  1. Write down one similarity between the bonding or properties of sodium chloride and iron.
  2. Show and compare their responses.
  3. Identify one difference between the bonding or properties of sodium chloride and iron.
  4. Show and compare their responses.

Bonding bingo: preparation

  1. Explain that they are going to form a team of two to play ’Bonding bingo’!
  2. Emphasise that they need to use the 10 minutes before the game starts to devise and write down questions:
    • Which have a yes or no answer.
    • That will help to find out which substance is being described.
  3. Ask several students to suggest a few suitable questions.
  4. Give each student a ‘Bonding bingo student sheet’. Circulate and support with prompts while:
    • They work in teams of two.
    • They spend 10 minutes devising and writing down their questions.
  5. Give each team one ‘Bingo card’ and one ‘Substance name card’ (several pairs may have the same name).

Bonding bingo

Explain the rules of ’Bonding bingo’:

  • A team sits with another team.
  • They toss a coin to decide which team asks questions first.
  • The questioners have to find out what substance is on the other team’s Substance name card.
  • They select questions from their list.
  • The other team must answer either yes or no.
  • When they think that they know the identity of the substance they write this on their sheet.
  • They only have one opportunity to do this, to minimise guessing.
  • If it is correct, the other team initials the substance square on the questioner’s Bingo card .
  • The roles are now reversed with the opposite team asking and answering questions.
  • The process is repeated with the other team asking the questions.
  • When completed, the two teams each go and join up with a different team.
  • They repeat the process.
  • The winners are the first team to have all of the squares on their Bingo card initialled.
  • If time is short, only play until all squares on one line are initialled.

Organise the students to ‘play’ bingo.


Bring students together in a plenary. Find out:

  • Which substances students found easy to identify.
  • Those substances that were more difficult to identify.
  • Which questions helped them most and which were less useful.

Provide suitable small prizes for the winners of Bonding bingo!

Before finishing

Encourage students to reflect on this activity and to write down which substances they knew a lot about and which ones they need to look at again because they were less confident about its structure and properties.


The bingo caller phrases are a way of introducing the idea of the ‘game’ that will help students to meet the learning objectives.

As students devise and discuss their questions they will be reassessing what they understand about the physical properties associated with different types of bonding. During the ‘game’ this is constantly tested by the other member of their pair and by the other teams, as they seek or give answers to the yes/no questions.

The plenary and personal reflection allows students to think about how confident they are with this topic as well as giving the teacher an indicator of the overall level of understanding.


Similarities and differences

Some responses students might make about the similarities and difference between sodium chloride and iron:


  • Have a giant lattice.
  • Bonding involves positive ions.
  • Solids at room temperature.
  • High melting point.
  • Conduct electricity.


  • Only iron has ‘free’ electrons.
  • Only bonding in sodium chloride involves negative ions.
  • Only sodium chloride dissolves in water.
  • Iron is shiny grey, sodium chloride is white.
  • Iron conducts electricity as a solid, sodium chloride doesn’t.

Possible student questions

  • Does the substance have a giant lattice?
  • Does the substance contain ions?
  • Does the substance contain simple molecules?
  • Has the substance have a high melting point?
  • Is the substance a gas at room temperature?
  • Does the substance conduct electricity?
  • Does the substance dissolve in water?
  • Is the substance coloured?