Add to collection
  • + Create new collection
  • The periodic table of elements can seem abstract to students. This activity helps to bring this important science idea to life by connecting everyday objects to the elements they are made of.

    Students work individually, as a group or as a class to create a photographic periodic table. By collecting images or objects that correspond to different elements and arranging these in a template, students are able to explore the periodic table in a way that makes meaning and provides multiple opportunities for discussion.

    Students may wish to use Te taka pūmotu – the periodic table of elements. It lists the English names (kupu ingarihi) and Māori names (kupu Māori) for the first 103 elements.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • identify elements contained in some everyday objects
    • use images to communicate their knowledge of elements.

    Download the Word file (see link below).

    Nature of science

    This activity allows students to engage in the Communicating in science substrand of the nature of science and provides opportunities for discussion about the different ways we can communicate science knowledge as well as the role images play in supporting science communication.

    Related content

    The Science Learning Hub team has curated a collection of resources related to the periodic table of elements. Log in and make this part of your private collection by clicking on the copy icon. You can then add additional content and notes and make other changes. Registering an account for the Science Learning Hub is easy and free – sign up with your email address or Google account. Look for the Sign in button at the top of each page.

    Activity ideas

    • Development of the periodic table – use this article to find out about the first scientific discovery of an element in 1649 and how this grew into the periodic table as we know it today.
    • Atomic clock – use this teacher resource to familiarise students with the names and symbols of the chemical elements.
    • Element rap – in this activity, students become familiar with the names and symbols of the chemical elements by creating a rap or poem.
    • Symbol find – in this activity, students become familiar with symbols of the chemical elements by creating them using letters from a phrase or sentence.

    Useful links

    Have a look at this Periodic table of the elements, which includes real images of the different elements, and this one, which has pictures of objects containing each element.


    This activity has been created in collaboration with the New Zealand Association of Primary Science Educators.

      Published 1 May 2019 Referencing Hub articles
          Go to full glossary
          Download all