two bingo cards

Polyatomic Ion Bingo

This activity works on memorization of the major polyatomic ions.


To help students with visual impairments to memorize the major polyatomic ions

Background information:

An ion is an atom or group of atoms that has a charge because of the loss or gain of electrons. A polyatomic ion is an ion that consists of at least two different elements. Polyatomic ions are common ingredients in many foods and household products. Phosphate, nitrate, sulfate, and sulfite are just a few examples. Memorizing the chemical formulas and names for the major polyatomic ions can assist students in writing more complex expressions in chemistry. Playing a game is an enjoyable way to work on memorization skills.



Prepare a game board for each student with 4 columns and 4 rows. Use the letters C, H, E, and M as the headings for the columns. Label each block on the board in braille and large print with the chemical formula or words for a variety of polyatomic ions. (Students can help with this task if there is time) Also ask the students to Braille or write out cards representing the words for all the polyatomic ions and formulas for all the words represented on the boards. Creating the cards and labels gives the students additional opportunities to practice the correct spelling of the words and to write the formulas using the subscripts and charge indicators. Collect the cards and the game can begin.


  1. Select a student to be the caller and game master, or the teacher can provide that role.
  2. Select a card from the pile and call out the formula or name.
  3. Students read the game boards to see if anyone has that ion on the board. The student who does covers that spot on the board, matching words to formulas and formulas to words. Alternately students can use game pieces that stick to their boards to mark the ions.
  4. As in bingo, the first student who has 4 across, 4 down, or a diagonal wins and calls out CHEM!

The same activity can be modified to help students learn the chemical symbols for each element at an earlier point in the chemistry curriculum.

collage with picture of bingo game with polyatomic ion written names on the game pieces

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