This Battleship Hack Is A Great Way To Teach The Periodic Table To Kids

by Elizabeth Licata

Periodic Table Battleship makes it easy for kids to remember the elements and learn about chemistry.

You sank my Molybdenum! Memorizing the Periodic Table of the Elements is some pretty advanced stuff, even for big kids and adults. But one parenting blogger has combined the Periodic Table and the game Battleship into a creative way to help even tiny kids learn that Na is sodium, He is helium, and Pb is lead, not peanut butter.

Karyn Tripp, a homeschooling mother of four and the brains behind the Teach Beside Me parenting blog, came up with a brilliant way to help her kids memorize the Periodic Table of Elements. She just took the game Battleship and turned the board into the Periodic Table, and it’s pretty darn brilliant.

“I came up with the idea because we play Battleship a lot at our house,” Tripp told The Huffington Post. “I was studying chemistry with my kids and we were trying to think of a fun way to memorize them. So it just came to me!”

Making the game is pretty easy, too. Tripp says it just takes four printed copies of the periodic table. They’re put together inside a file folder so they can stand up in the shape of an L so one table is vertical and one is flat on the table, and the two vertical pages have their backs together so the kids can’t see each others’ boards. Anybody who has ever played Battleship will understand how that layout works. Tripp laminated her boards so her kids can use the same print-outs over and over again, which is a good idea because it sounds like her kids get a lot of use out of this game.

To mark where the “boats” go, each kid circles the rows where they want the ships to go on the bottom table.

“The kids can then mark where they want to place their ships by circling rows of 2, 3, 4 and 5 elements on the lower table,” Tripp said on her blog. “They play by calling out coordinates. If they miss they put an X on the spot they chose on the upper table. If they get a hit, they circle it.”

Tripp’s oldest child is 11, but even younger kids have fun with the Periodic Table Battleship game, and it’s a really good way to familiarize kids with the concept of the Periodic Table. They’ll memorize some or all of the elements, and that’s a good gateway to learning why the table is organized the way it is. It’s a good way to get kids interested in science from a young age, which can only help them as they get bigger and into more demanding tasks.

A lot of kids start science classes at school thinking that the sciences are especially hard, or just for “smart” kids, or that they themselves are “bad” at things like math and science, often for no reason. That sort of thing can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think you suck at chemistry before you even open a book, you might always be afraid of it. Even just playing a game like this seems like it could make kids feel smart and good at chemistry, which can help demystify the sciences and make them seem less scary.