Mum turns periodic table into a game of Battleship

Karyn Tripp shows you how to make learning the periodic table fun for kids.
Karyn Tripp shows you how to make learning the periodic table fun for kids. Photo: Teach Beside Me/Karyn Tripp

They say that necessity is the mother of invention.

When one mother found herself in need of a way to teach her children the periodic table, she came up with the best invention of all - turning that task into a game.

Utah-based mother of four, Karyn Tripp, created a Battleship style periodic table game. She then laminated the game, so it can be used time and again.

And the results speak for themselves:


Karyn has been homeschooling her children for seven years. In that time, she has created lots of learning games, which she shares on her website, Teach Beside Me.

There you can find cool instructions for learning activities, such as how to make a slide whistle, and how to make a water drop maze.

While she's a full-time homeschooler now, Karyn has a background as a home economics teacher, and describes her homeschooling style as "eclectic".

Since posting this particular game up on her website, she's had a great reaction.


Lots of commenters are calling her idea 'Brilliant,' while others are saying they wished it was around when they were at school.

Some commenters are saying you could take this idea even further - perhaps turning the classic 'Guess Who' into a periodic table themed game. ("Are you a heavy metal? Nope? Well, I'll get rid of all them now…")

Perhaps most exciting for many, is the fact that Karyn has set up instructions on how to assemble the game at home.

Mind you, not everyone agrees with the way Karyn set up the game.

You see, the way she initially played it with her kids employed standard Battleship moves, based on finding a coordinate using lettered rows.

Instead, people are commenting that she could help her children learn each element more effectively if she went about the game in a different way.

One chemistry teacher said it was a "neat idea" but wrote:

"… Please don't use letters on the side, the periodic table is numbered on the rows too".

Another chemistry teacher chimed in, advising Karyn to use she atomic numbers as part of the game.

"Another option of calling out is to use the atomic number of the element, so the kiddos can get used to reading the table also. Since each element has a unique atomic number."

But Karyn says she started playing the game in that way so that anyone – even those who don't know chemistry – can play.

She also noted that while her children began the game like this, they soon started 'amping up' the whole chemical aspect.

"Mostly I did coordinates to make it non-threatening for my seven-year-old to play. But [my children] ended up calling out the element names after a few minutes of playing and liked that much better!"

Even if Karyn's idea doesn't mean her children will instantly learn the periodic table, it does give them extra exposure to it in a fun way.

And we all know that making learning fun is more than half the Battle.