Use a concept map to help your students revise the periodic table and explain how elements are arranged in this lesson plan with activities for 14–16 year olds

In this activity, students work with a concept map linking key words about the periodic table. They discuss relationships between words, exploring and revealing their own understanding.

This resource is best used for revising and consolidating students’ knowledge, with the aim of helping them to understand and explain the way in which elements are arranged in the periodic table.

An alternative version of this activity for revising the periodic table is available as a PDF book extract from K. Taber’s Chemical misconceptions.

Learning objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Understand and explain the way in which elements are arranged in the periodic table.

Sequence of activities


  1. Ask students, working in pairs, to write down ten words that are in some way connected with the periodic table.
  2. List a selection of these words on a board and use them when sharing the learning objectives.
  3. Explain to the students that they are going to:
    • Devise sentences to link together words connected with the periodic table.
    • Revise their knowledge about the topic, as a result.
  4. Stress that there may well be more than one appropriate answer so, it is what they write that is important rather than trying to remember a particular sequence of words.

Activity: stage 1

Give a copy of ’Revision map for the periodic table’ and a ’Revising the Periodic table: worksheet’ to each student. Set students working individually to:

  1. Look carefully at the ‘Revision map’.
  2. Write sentences, on their worksheet, that connect together the words in the boxes.
  3. Use the same sentence number in the table as on the line.

This could be done before the lesson.

Ask students to review their understanding and list which questions they have been able to do at the end of the worksheet.

Activity: stage 2

Bring students together in groups of three to:

  1. Compare the sentences they have devised.
  2. Discuss the similarities and differences between their answers.

Again, ask students to review their understanding and list, at the end of the worksheet, which questions they have been able to do.


Organise a plenary. Ask:

  1. Students from different groups to share their sentences and to identify where they still have gaps.
  2. Other groups to add to these comments.
  3. Supplementary questions, to ensure that all the questions are answered.

Before finishing

Allow time for students to complete their worksheet so that all the questions have an appropriate answer.


Take in the worksheets and comment on where ideas have been clearly and accurately expressed and identify where students need to develop their ideas.


Initially sparking words connected with the periodic table establishes a communication channel for explaining the learning objectives.

Students mainly self-assess, buoyed by the result of discussion with their peers. This is progressive during the activities.

The plenary enables the teacher to gain a clear picture of what ideas the whole class finds most demanding and to ensure that all students recognise the standards they are aiming for. This is reinforced by the comments written by the teacher, on the worksheets.

Suggested answers

Some suggested sentences linking the words in boxes include:

  1. The periodic table is a way of arranging what we know about chemical elements.
  2. Elements are arranged in rows in the periodic table.
  3. The rows of elements are called periods.
  4. Different elements contain different numbers of protons.
  5. Each element has a different atomic number.
  6. The number of protons in an atom is its atomic number.
  7. There are the same number of protons as electrons in a neutral atom.
  8. Elements with the same number of electron shells are in the same period.
  9. Elements are arranged in columns in the periodic table.
  10. Electrons are arranged in shells.
  11. The columns are called groups.
  12. Elements in the same group have the same number of electrons in the outer shell.
  13. Electrons in the outer shell but not other shells are involved in bonding atoms together.
  14. Elements in the same group have similar properties.
  15. The chemical properties of an element depend upon the number of electrons in the outer shell.
  16. Alkali metals all have similar properties.
  17. Elements in Group 1 of the periodic table are called the ‘alkali metals’.
  18. Elements in group VII of the periodic table are called the ‘halogens’.
  19. Sodium is an alkali metal.
  20. Chlorine is a halogen.
  21. Sodium reacts with chlorine to form sodium chloride. *
  22. Chlorine reacts with sodium to form sodium chloride. *

* Sentences 21 and 22 do not test the periodic table.