Snakes and Ladders Game as Way of Reviewing Periodic Trends

Image by Druyts.t. Licensing under Creative Commons.

Image by Druyts.t. Licensing under Creative Commons.

By Varsha Patel

Curriculum Connection: Grade 11 University Chemistry (SCH3U), Matter, Chemical Trends, and Chemical Bonding Unit


This Snakes and Ladders activity is a fun and engaging way to challenge students through fostering critical thinking skills as they review material related to periodic trends.
This game can be played for the first portion of a period, just prior to administering a quiz or for an entire period, depending on how large scale you go. Depending on how many questions and corresponding answers you and/or students generate, several different board games can be prepared wherein each game comes with a unique set of “snakes,” “ladders”, and regular-based questions and answers of varying levels of difficulty. “Snakes” questions can be grouped as easy questions that require a short, straight-forward response. “Ladders” questions may be grouped as more difficult questions that require students to think through concepts and provide an extended response. Finally, regular-based questions can be of moderate difficulty, somewhere in between snakes questions and ladders questions.

If several different board games are prepared, then students have an opportunity to switch board games and resume playing. Alternatively, one can create different board games that collectively address an entire unit or even several units of study in preparation for a unit test or final exam, respectively. In the case of final exam review, students may
even decide to choose the board based on which unit they need most review on. Playing cards are created from the Tables shown starting on the next page, by folding along the line that divides the question from the answer, then cutting out each row and either clipping or gluing the front question side of the card onto the back answer side.

As for materials, I had students bring in their own player token (e.g., small coin, pebble, button, poker chip) and die. For those students who did not bring in the requested material, I provided a paper-based die template (see first link below), complete with instructions on how to make their own paper die, as well as different kinds of lentils (for use
as a player token). Those students quite enjoyed making a paper die. In the future, I might consider bringing in Smarties as player tokens as they not only come in different colours, they are also easily obtained, are cost-effective and already come pre-packaged for ease of transport and storage.

As for the board game template itself, the second link below can be accessed, the template downloaded and then printed off. Enough copies can be made, depending on whether two and/or three players play together. Alternatively, you can have your students create their own game board by just providing a numbered board template (see third link below) only so that they can add their own snakes and ladders of varying size, appearance, number, and location (i.e., placement on board). This would allow students the opportunity to be creative and generate boards of differing levels of challenge. For example, one group might consider having a snake’s head at the hundredth number, requiring a player to pass that number in order to avoid sliding down that snake. Such a snake could be long and have its tail close to the beginning of the board. Additional challenges can be encouraged by modifying the rules given below or even having students come up with their own rules such that different boards not only look different but also come with a different set of rules. For example, steps 3 and 4 can be modified by having students roll a six in order to just enter the board. Each subsequent player must roll a six to enter the board and the die must be rolled again in order to proceed forward.

Snakes and Ladders Question and Answer Cards

Click here to get printer-ready game cards. They are designed to be cut out along the dotted lines. You’ll see a solid vertical grey line running up and down the height of each page. DO NOT CUT THIS LINE. This grey line indicates where each card is to be folded so that a question is on one side of the card while the corresponding answer is on the other. You may want to use a small piece of tape or a glue stick to adhere the folded sides together.

Editor’s note: Use caution when using food or candy in the classroom. Be aware of any allergies, and students should be reminded not to eat the candy or food in the lab or classroom. It might be better to use dollar-store flat marbles or foam cutouts as the tokens instead.


Curriculum Expectations

Overall Expectation

B3. demonstrate an understanding of periodic trends in the periodic table and how elements combine to form chemical bonds

Specific Expectation

B3.3 state the periodic law, and explain how patterns in the electron arrangement and forces in atoms result in periodic trends (e.g., in atomic radius, ionization energy, electron affinity, electronegativity) in the periodic table.



Varsha Patel is a science teacher interested in co-operative learning. She is teaching at Georges Vanier Secondary School in the TDSB.

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