Lesson Plan

The Layout of the Periodic Table


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In this lesson, students will explore the influence that the number and arrangement of electrons plays in the arrangement of the periodic table. Students will identify key groups that elements with chemical similarities occupy on the periodic table. Students will:

  • identify similarities within elements in the same groups and periods in the periodic table.
  • create a model of the representation of the number and arrangement of electrons surrounding the atom’s nucleus.
  • relate electron configurations of elements to their position on the periodic table.
  • count the number of valence electrons in elements based on their placement in the periodic table.

Essential Questions

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  • Group: A column in the periodic table; elements in one group have the same number of electrons in the outermost energy level. Elements in a group have similar chemical properties.
  • Period: A row of the periodic table.
  • Electron Configuration: The arrangement of electrons in an atom.
  • Electron Configuration Notation: A method of notation that shows the arrangement of electrons using a series of numbers, letters, and superscripts (e.g., 1s2).
  • Alkali Metals: Group 1 in the periodic table. A group of soft, white, low-density, low-melting point, highly reactive metallic elements, including lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium, cesium, and francium. Because their atoms have only one electron in the outermost energy level, they are very reactive chemically (they react rapidly, even violently, with water), form numerous compounds, and are never found free in nature.
  • Alkaline Earth Metals: Group 2 in the periodic table. A group of metallic elements, especially calcium, strontium, magnesium, and barium, but generally including beryllium and radium. Their atoms have two electrons in the outermost energy level, so they react readily, form numerous compounds, and are never found free in nature.
  • Transition Metals: Any of the metallic elements within Groups 3 to 12 in the periodic table; characterized by multiple valences.
  • Metalloids: Metalloids are the elements that have properties of both metals and non-metals. They are found along the stair-step line that distinguishes metals from non-metals.
  • Halogens: Group 17 in the periodic table. A group of five chemically related nonmetallic elements including fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine, and astatine. All are highly reactive and combine readily with most metals and nonmetals to form a variety of compounds and never occur uncombined in nature.
  • Noble Gases: Group 18 in the periodic table, also called the inert gases. They have eight electrons in the highest main energy level; all are gases that are colorless, odorless, and tasteless.
  • Lanthanide Metals: Elements representing atomic numbers 57–61 in the periodic table. They are shiny metals, similar in reactivity to alkaline earth metals. They are positioned at the bottom of the periodic table due to electron configuration.
  • Actinide Metals: A series of radioactive metallic elements in Group 3 of the periodic table. Members of the series are often called actinides, although actinium (at. no. 89) is not always considered a member of the series. The series includes the 14 elements with atomic numbers 90 through 103.They are positioned at the bottom of the periodic table due to electron configuration. 
  • Orbital: A region of space surrounding an atom’s nucleus where an electron is likely to be found.


140–180 minutes/2–3 class periods

Prerequisite Skills


o   copies of the Element Organization Activity handout (S-C-5-2_Element Organization Activity and Rubric.doc)

o   Element Organization Cards (S-C-5-2_Element Organization Activity Cards.doc)

o   poster board

o   scissors

o   tape or glue

o   colored pencils, markers, or crayons (five colors)

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