The periodic table

Learn about the particle model.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos showing a metal and non-metal in use
  • two activities


In 1867 scientist Dmitri Mendeleev realised that many of the elements shared similar chemical properties. This led him to group similar elements together and produce a visual representation of this, he called the periodic table.

A section of the periodic table

In the periodic table the elements are arranged in order of increasing atomic number (or number of protons in the nucleus) from left to right, beginning with hydrogen (H) which has just one electron surrounding its nucleus.

  • the horizontal rows are called periods
  • the vertical columns are called groups

The groups are numbered 1-7 (left to right). Group 8 (or 0) is the furthest right group and contains the noble gases.

Elements in the same group have similar chemical properties to each other and will often show particular patterns. For example, as you go down group 1 the reactivity of the element increases, but the melting point decreases.

Metals and non-metals

Every element is either a metal or a non-metal. All metals are situated on the left hand side of the periodic table and all the non-metals are on the right. You can see the grey zig-zag that separates them in the periodic table above.

The central part of the periodic table between groups 2 and 3 contains the transition metals.


Iron, magnesium and gold are examples of metal elements. All metals have three common properties:

  • they are shiny, especially when they are freshly cut
  • they are good conductors of heat and electricity
  • they are malleable (they can be bent and shaped without breaking)
A case study video on how a jeweller uses gold in their job.


Oxygen, carbon, sulphur and chlorine are examples of non-metal elements. Compared to metals, non-metals tend to be:

  • dull (not shiny)
  • poor conductors of heat and electricity (they are insulators)
  • weak and brittle (they easily break or shatter when solid)
A short video explaining how hydrogen can be used to fuel cars.



There are lots of ways to try out your science skills.

Activity 1

Test your knowledge of the Periodic table with this downloadable worksheet from Twinkl.

Periodic table

Activity 2

Try your hand at code breaking and reveal the secret message using a Periodic table in this downloadable worksheet from Twinkl.

Periodic table code breaker

There's more to learn

Have a look at these other resources around the BBC and the web.

KS3 Chemistry
11-14 Chemistry
Bitesize Daily lessons