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My Element Rules


‘My Element Rules’ is a teaching resource I developed to help students understand classification of matter, organisation of elements in the Periodic Table (based on their chemical and physical properties), arrangement of atoms and subatomic particles, and the coming together of elements to form molecules/compounds (during reactions). This resource is simple, fun, creative, hands on, collaborative, highly engaging and easily connects the abstraction of concepts such as atoms, molecules, compounds and their interactions with concrete manipulatives that provide information in a visual-special context as well as illustrate the various arrangements of matter on a level of particles. I believe visualisation is a powerful tool – it allows students to better understand difficult concepts and lays down solid foundations for further exploration of abstract topics inherent to science and scientific thinking.

This resource links with a unit of work in chemical sciences – Elements, Compounds and Mixtures – I developed as a part of this course of study. It contains the first 36 elements, majority of which are the most abundant according to their relative abundance on the Earth’s surface (Sheehan 1970) and thus form a variety of common molecules/compounds, which also frequently interact with each other. The periodic table is the most important chemistry reference. Being familiar with the elements occurring in the first four periods of the periodic table is absolutely necessary as it provides a platform for understanding of more difficult concepts in the studies of chemical sciences.

The laminated cards are double sided. One side is very simple, containing chemical symbol, atomic number and relative atomic mass – this information is typically included in the periodic table of elements. The other side is more detailed and contains chemical symbol, atomic number, relative atomic mass number as well as the name of the element, electron configurations in their respective orbitals expressed both in the form of a visual diagram and as a number sequence (e.g. 2, 8, 2) – these are essential to understanding the arrangement of atoms in the periodic table and also the formation of bonds during chemical reactions. The cards are colour-coded – cards with red string represent metals whilst cards with blue string represent nonmetals – the formation of ionic bonds between metals and nonmetals, metallic bonds between metals or covalent bonding between nonmetals can be thus easily identified. The cards are further colour coded – Alkali metals (red); alkaline earth metals (orange); transition metals (yellow); other metals (light green); metalloids (purple); other nonmetals (pink); halogens (dark green) noble gases (blue) and finally the element hydrogen (white). The colour coding enables students to easily categorise elements and in doing so investigate and distinguish their similarities and differences, understanding the relationships of atoms in same groups or periods. The three most stable isotopes of hydrogen are also included – protium, deuterium and tritium – these can be utilised to demonstrate hydrogen fusion (what makes the sun shine?) as well as to demonstrate the concept of isotopes. Positive (+) and negative (-) cards are also included. These can be blue-tacked onto the large cards to demonstrate that an element has gained or lost an electron and become an ion (cation/anion) – this is vital for understanding the formation of ionic bonds. The resource also contains sufficient number of polystyrene balls that represent electrons – students will simply spear these onto the skewer sticks provided and can hold them in their hands to represent the valance electrons on a particular atom – this is great for understanding formation of molecular bonds – ionic, when atoms give away electrons as in the case of Na+Cl- or covalent, when atoms share one or more electrons. Through role-play students can explore the many possibilities this resource offers to learning chemistry of atoms, elements, compounds and related concepts. I have tested this highly visual engaging teaching resource at home with my friends. Their comment was:


‘I never understood ionic bonding, you have made it fun, simple and easy to visualise, and what’s more, this is one chemistry lesson that I will certainly never forget’ ~ Adrian


We see sodium proposing by means of offering chlorine his valance electron…


…chlorine gladly accepts and fills his outer shell…


…I pronounce you sodium chloride aka table salt


Congratulations! You have made it to the bottom of this page! Find attached links to useful materials that accompany this teaching resource and unit of work.

Unit – Chemistry: Atoms, Elements, Compounds, Mixtures

Inquiry Launch

Mini Quiz – What’s the Matter

My Element Rules – teaching resource

My Element Rules– supporting PPT