An Introduction to the Periodic Table of Elements for Toddlers

Periodic Table of Elements
From A to Z

Fierce (my 2 year old son) and I were painting one morning and I thought to myself, “Why not paint the Periodic Table of Elements?” Next thought, “Just buy a poster board.” “Naaa, it will be fun.” So I got out a bulletin board and set to work making my custom colored Periodic Table complete with gold trim. I measured and painted away. The hardest and most tedious part was painting in all of the names of the elements.

This was meant to just be an introduction to the elements so I decided to build upon a concept he already knows. Using the alphabet as a guide we started with Al is for Aluminum and did one letter/element each day until we reached Zn is for Zinc. There are no elements that start with J or Q so we just skipped them. We added one bonus element, Cl is for chlorine, because we were in the pool and it occurred to me that this would be a great real life representation of chlorine. I made it a point to try to find real life examples of each element that he would recognize or already know in a tangible way.

This was not at all an overwhelming task. It took me literally 5 minutes a day to look up an example and go over the general idea of the element. Some days he would have a lot of fun with it and we would make up games to go along with the theme of the element. Other days, I would just remind him a couple of times throughout the day and ask him if he remembered at the end of the day. I let him pin each item on the board. Sometimes I had to start it and he would push it in the rest of the way and then hang the item. If he wasn’t interested, I didn’t force the issue and just did it myself while talking about the element. Honestly it was really easy and just a matter of being mindful of the concept you were teaching throughout the day and days to come. I can’t say my son knows them all, but he knows quite a few and I think we will continue to revisit the ones we have already explored and learn the rest soon!

Al is for Aluminum

Aluminum foil! Of course! Ya, I didn’t have any. I actually had to remember to get some next time we went to the store…What? Who doesn’t have aluminum foil? Ahhhhh!

B is for Boron

For the first time ever, I was not upset when I broke one of my ceramic dinner plates. Boron is found in ceramic and it was now a great hands on example!

C is for Carbon

Carbon fiber is used in race cars so I had Fierce hang up one of his match box cars on the board. He was not too sure about this, but I soon distracted him with a different car to play with. We also watched a YouTube movie on how carbon fiber is used to make the body of a car.

Cl is for Chlorine

Fierce swallowed some pool water at the gym the other day and said, “Yuck, patooee!” I told him there was chlorine in the pool that gave the water that yucky taste and Cl is for Chlorine! It wasn’t apart of our alphabet, but it was a good way to introduce chlorine on the spot as a bonus element. When we got home, we hung up a picture of him at the pool on the board.

Db is for Dubnium

Dubnium is DANGEROUS! I used alliteration and a thunderous voice to make this fun. Then I explained that it was radioactive and I drew the radioactive symbol to put on the board. I am not sure he would remember Db is for Dubnium, but he definitely knows Dubnium is DANGEROUS!!!!

Eu is for Europium

Trace amounts of europium are found in a postage stamp so I found a used one and he pinned it to the board.

F is for Fluorine

Did you know fluorine was in the fuel for spaceships????? Um, YES! Fierce thought this was awesome! I rolled, folded and cut up post-it notes until they somewhat looked like a rocket ship and he very enthusiastically said, “3, 2, 1 Blast off!” and we pinned it to the board.

Ga is for Gallium

I really didn’t think Fierce was paying much attention to Ga is for Gallium. But throughout the day when I saw a mirror, I would repeat, “Ga is for Gallium and it is found in mirrors…how cool is that?!” A few days later we were looking in a mirror and I asked him, “What does Ga stand for?” He replied, “Gallium!” I was shocked and not for the first time I thought to myself, “You just don’t know what they are soaking in their little minds…so fun!”

H is for Hydrogen

This is actually the first element we ever talked about and that conversation launched this whole idea. Hydrogen is found in the sun so I cut out a picture of the sun from a flash card and he pinned it up on the board.

I is for Iodine

For iodine I had him pour salt into a ziplock bag and then pinned it up to the board.

K is for Kalium/ Potassium

Life is full of exceptions and K is for Potassium not a name that actually starts with K…Or so I thought. K is for Kalium originally, which we call potassium today. Potassium is found in fireworks so we headed to the dollar store and bought sparklers, snap-its and party poppers. For $3 we had a whole afternoon of fun and even saved some for when daddy got home so Wes and Fierce could do some more! Fierce would only participate in throwing the snap-its, but really enjoyed watching the sparklers light up and the poppers pop out confetti. It was a really fun day.

Li is for Lithium

Lithium is found in batteries. Fierce is a bit obsessed with batteries because it “fixes” his toys. I pinned up the battery package to the board because it was easier than putting up a battery itself.

Mg is for Magnesium

Magnesium is found in volcanoes! I cut out a picture of a volcano from a flash card and he pinned it to the board. Then we watched a YouTube video on the recent volcanic eruption in Hawaii.

N is for Nitrogen

We had a busy day so I introduced N is for Nitrogen at the dinner table and Wes told us it was in lightning. After dinner I drew a lightning bolt and Fierce pinned it up. It was a fun one because the whole family got involved in the discussion and learning process 🙂

O is for Oxygen

O is for OOOOxygen! Fierce really inflects this one and it is pretty cute. Oxygen is found in water and plastics so we put a water bottle with a little water left in it on our board.

P is for Phosphorus

Phosphorous is found in your bones so we made our own little cardboard and tape skeleton. He liked telling me what body parts we needed next. Not gonna lie, I probably would have just done a head, body, arms and legs, but he insisted we have hands and feet. lol

Ra is for Radium

Radium glows in the dark so I got out a race car with wheels that glow in the dark and we played with it in closets and under furniture. He was not at all willing to pin this to the board so it remains off the board. Can’t win them all 😉

S is for Sulfur

It is STINKY!
It is also found in Tires. Fierce thought this was great so he threw a toy car tire into a fort we had made and then once we were inside said, “Oh no! It is stinky!” and we had to scramble out as fast as we could…and repeat 100x. If you ask him what S stands for he will pinch his nose and say Sulfur is stinky!

Ti is for Titanium

Titanium is found in the metal on airplanes. I pinned up one of his planes to the board. He has tried to take this down on a few occasions, but it has held fast…Mom for the win!

U is for Uranium

I told Fierce that uranium is used to make energy as I drew a rough sketch of a power plant. The next time we were at the Science Museum, I pointed out their sketch on uranium as well. He was not that interested. The battery, coal and wind farm examples were a lot more fun sooo….still on the lookout to find a way to make this interesting for him.

V is for Vanadium

Vanadium is found in springs so I opened up a broken toy and yanked out one of the springs where the batteries are held. He thought this was fun to watch, but disappointed that I wasn’t actually going to fix the toy. Sorry kid, this is for science!

W is for Tungston

W is for Tungsten and that is Wierd.  Tools made of tungsten can cut through metal so we hung up one of his play tools on the board.

Xe is for Xenon

Xenon is a blue gas in earth’s atmosphere. For this one I drew a picture of blue gas with crayon and called it good 😉

Y is for Yttrium

Yttrium is found in LED light bulbs so we hung one of these up with a twist tie.

Zn is for Zinc

Zinc is in every cell of your body and in the food that you eat. It helps you to grow. To represent growth we hung up a measuring tape. I had my husband take a picture of me boosting Fierce up to pin the last piece on the board. It is a little blurry, but I think you can tell we had fun with this project.

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About the Author : ky_admin

2 Comments

  1. Jodi K May 27, 2018 at 2:20 am

    Kylene,
    I’m so proud of you for instilling the love of learning in Fierce. You’re very wise to make this fun for him. Children are little sponges soaking up tidbits aling lifes path. Good job for exposing him to so much!

    • ky_admin May 27, 2018 at 6:34 am

      Well, I did learn from the best! Thanks mom!

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