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20 October 2014
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Chemistry: Metals and Non-Metals

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Metals and non-metals lesson plan

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KS3 Bitesize


  • All students should know that metals and non-metals have different characteristics
  • Most students will understand that metals can be placed in an order of reactivity
  • Some students will be able to predict the outcome of reactions between metals

Bitesize English fish

National Curriculum

  • Sc3.3a-c


  • Lithium, sodium, potassium, forceps, scalpel and tile, water troughs. Test tubes, gas collecting tubes, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, dilute Hydrochloric acid

Teaching activities


Recap Periodic Table. What did it show? Why were elements put in groups? How are elements referred to in the Table? Identify metals and non-metals on the table. Use the printable worksheet to explore metal and non-metal behaviour.


  1. Introduce the idea of reactivity. A more reactive metal will react with weaker solutions, colder solutions and will displace less reactive metals from their compounds. Metals can be placed in a Reactivity series, ranking them from the most to the least reactive.
  2. Talk about the effect of leaving metals exposed to the air. More reactive metals form a dull oxide coating (cut lithium, sodium and potassium). Less reactive metals need heating to form an oxide. Refer to heating magnesium of previous lesson. Students can try heating copper and zinc to see the Oxide formed. Write summary word equations.

    Introduce reactions with Water. Demonstrate Sodium, Potassium and Lithium with water in a fume cupboard, to illustrate reactive metals. Students react a small range of metals (e.g. calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper) with cold, then hot water to see if they react. Any gas collected should be tested. Students rank metals in order of reactivity. Summarise reactions using word equation.

    Introduce reactions with Acids. Outline example reactions using word equations. Students react magnesium and dilute HCl and test gas produced (Hydrogen).


  • Demo the displacement reaction between Copper II Sulphate solution and Iron filings. Ask students why this has happened? Give students a reactivity series of metals. Ask them to predict the word equations for the reactions between different combinations of metals and metal compounds.


  • Look at Group 4 elements. Which are non-metals and which are metals? Find out which elements might not have typical behaviour for their category.

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