Memorizing the Periodic Table

The periodic table is indispensable knowledge for anyone planning to take chemistry in high school or college. Particularly, the first three or four periods, if memorized, will help the student to get better grades and to answer questions faster. It is best to take the first two periods first and then the third and then the fourth. If the student is serious they can continue with the later periods.

Coupled with the memorization practices, it is important to give the 10th grader problems, lots of problems, to work on that will use their knowledge of the periodic table. If they have to calculate the number of moles of a certain element enough times they will quickly begin to learn its atomic weight. Atomic weights are a key aspect of the periodic table which need to be assimilated along with Avogadro’s number.

To memorize, it is best to write the periods down on a flash card and practice. Get an idea of the first ten elements and repeat them over and over to yourself until you can do it without looking at the flashcard. Do the same with any other period you want to memorize. While you are in the car on the way to school (not the day before the test) use your flashcards and practice until you know you have it right. The way the elements sound phonetically makes this a straightforward process as long as you know the elements from another source as well.

When you see hydrogen, you know that because of H2o. You know helium because of balloons. Lithium is a drug used by bipolar individuals. Boron is a trace element needed by the body. We all know carbon. Nitrogen is in the air. Oxygen we breathe. Fluorine is a halogen. Neon is a noble gas. There’s the first two periods right there. By creating associations with the elements and real life in the student’s mind, it will make it easier for them to learn them in order. Of course, it’s important that they be in order so that the groups are lined up properly.

The students will have an easier time keeping this knowledge if they are frequently tested on their knowledge. It only takes about five minutes to write down the elements in order if you have memorized them so it doesn’t take much class time. Being able to know where on the periodic table an element lies tells you how many electrons the element is likely to donate or receive and what the charge will be if it’s more or less.

That’s why it’s important to learn reactions at the time you are teaching the table or soon after. That way the student can use their knowledge of the periodic table and ionization to help them get the right answers. I used these techniques to learn the periodic table myself and when I took chemistry in college it was far easier for me to be successful than if I hadn’t memorized it.