Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Periodic Table Families

Melanie Fraser


Students investigate chemical and physical properties within families or groups of the periodic table. They create and perform plays for younger students in which the dialogue and costumes accurately represent these properties.


The student knows that elements are arranged into groups and families based on similarities in electron structure and that their physical and chemical properties can be predicted.

The student uses classical, contemporary, and vocal acting techniques and methods to portray the physical, emotional, and social dimensions of characters from various genres and media.


-Access to research materials
-Construction paper
-Video recorder (optional)
-Video tapes (optional)
-Performance rubric (see attached file)


1. The teacher should provide direct instruction as necessary on the electron structure and trends of the periodic table. Students will use this information along with other reference information (textbook, internet, scientific magazines) to determine the physical and chemical properties that their designated family or group have in common.
2. A discussion of the periodic table and periodic trends may be necessary prior to this activity.
3. Students will need time to create costumes and props for their play, thus materials will vary from team to team. A variety of materials should be provided.

The periodic table is arranged according to the number of electrons and electron placement. The number of electrons increases by one as one moves across each horizontal period within the periodic table. The energy level increases by one as one moves down each family. Members of a family have a similar electronic structure, electrons occupy similar orbitals, and properties are similar.


-Students will relate physical and chemical properties to the periodic table.
-Students will know that elements are arranged in families or groups within the periodic table.
-Students will relate element placement within the periodic table to electron structure.
-Students will use writing and communication skills to enhance concept development.

1. Place students in cooperative groups of four to six students.

2. Assign one or two families or groups to each team to research.

3. The objective of this activity is to create a performance based on the periodic table. The performance will be in the form of a play appropriate for students age 8 - 14. The play should demonstrate how elements can be classified into families and groups based on similarities in electron structure. Once classified into their groups and families (i.e., see the periodic table), the physical and chemical properties of these elements can be predicted.

4. Cooperative groups should follow this procedure.
a. Research the properties of elements found within the assigned family or group. Examples of properties to research are: melting point, freezing point, atomic structure (specifically electron configuration), oxidation, phase of matter, conductivity, malleability, ionic size, ionization energy, electron affinity, electronegativity, metallic and/or non-metallic characteristics, atomic radius. Students are not limited to these properties, however, the group should select at least four different properties to research for the performance, along with electron structure.
b. Design and create a script, costumes, and props to represent the properties within the assigned family or group. The dialogue and costumes should accurately represent the electron structure, as well as physical and chemical properties of the family or group.
c. Perform the play for the class. Demonstrate the concepts of electron structure and periodic trends in an educational, yet entertaining fashion. The performance should last approximately five minutes.


Performances could be video taped and assessed using the Performance Rubric provided in the attached file. Share the criteria contained in the rubric with students prior to them creating their plays. Quality performance tapes may be offered to local elementary and middle schools for use with their students.

The following questions may also be used to assess student understanding of the periodic table.

1. Which of the following properties are similar within a family or group?
a. Electronic structure
b. Melting point
c. Reactivity
d. All of the above

(Answer d: These are all properties that are similar within a family.)

2. The periodic table is based on which of these properties:
a. Color and odor
b. Molecular structure
c. Compound structure
d. Electron structure

(Answer d: The periodic table is based on electron structure.)

3. Which of the following is true of elements within the same family of the periodic table?
a. The number of electrons increases by one for each element.
b. The number of protons remains constant.
c. The energy levels increase by one for each element.
d. The masses are equal.

(Answer c: The energy levels increase by one for each element in a family.)

Self-Reflection: (To be completed after all performances are viewed and used for comparison purposes.)
What were the strongest parts of your group's presentation? What part(s) needed to be improved and how could you improve them? State how the conceptual development part of your groupís presentation relates to the benchmark.

Attached Files

The performance rubric for use with the activity.     File Extension: pdf

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