Classifying Types of Reactions Card Sort Activity

I created this classifying types of reactions card sort activity for my physical science students. I thought I should share it with you as well!

My physical science students are in the midst of their chemical reactions unit.  So far, we’ve balanced chemical equations and translated equations in words to symbols (and balanced them, too).  Now, we’re taking a bit of a break from balancing to classify reaction types. Afterwards, students will be given the reactants and asked to predict the products.  This will hopefully prepare us for that!

After doing some basic practice problems in our notes, I decided a card sort was the best way to practice this.  I designed a template for students to place their cards on as they sorted.  We were focusing on five different types of chemical reactions: synthesis, decomposition, single displacement, double displacement, and combustion.

Then, I typed up four reactions of each type into a table.  It ended up looking like this:

My physical science standards state that students are held responsible only for reactions involving main group elements.  I interpreted this to mean that we would not need to deal with polyatomic ions.  Is this the correct interpretation?  Not really sure.  But, it’s what I went with.  I’ve had a hard time finding resources where the equations do not involve polyatomic ions, so I’ve been having to create a lot of stuff on my own for this unit.

Another reason I’ve avoided polyatomic ions is that the students I am teaching in physical science are students who have not been successful at science in the past.  My school looks at middle school science test scores to place students in high school level science courses.  Students who were successful at the middle school level take biology in the 9th grade.  Students who struggled with science at the middle school level take physical science in the 9th grade.  I’ve had a few comments left on my blog about the materials I’m teaching being a bit too elementary for physical science.  This is why.

The card sort ended up going really well.  Here are some pictures of my students in action:

This card sort ended up clearing up so many misconceptions before our quiz.  This made the quiz grading experience so much nicer!

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  1. For differentiation, I do something very similar in my "advanced" station, but I use the cards as an inquiry activity. The students are told that there are 5 groups to place their cards in, and they're allowed to ask me three questions total. If they seem to be struggling after a few minutes, I let them know that they should be paying attention to how many products and reactants each equation has. Love your template to organize that game — then they can transfer their cards to it after learning the definitions! Thanks 🙂

  2. I used this today with a section of my 9th graders who were struggling. This helped them a great deal. Thank you!

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