Chemdeck Card Games

Student Activity Kit


Liven up the study of the formulas and names of ionic compounds by introducing the students to this set of interactive and fun card games.


  • Ionic compounds
  • Nomenclature
  • Molar mass
  • Solubility


Chemdeck is a card game designed to help students in writing charge-balanced ionic formulas, naming ionic compounds, and calculating molar mass. Five decks of playing cards are included. Each deck contains 26 cations, 28 anions and 54 numbered cards. The cation cards represent familiar cations having 1+, 2+ or 3+ charge, while the anion cards represent common anions having 1–, 2– or 3– charge. The numbered cards are used to represent subscripts in the formulas of ionic compounds and have values of 1, 2 and 3. Twelve additional blank cards are provided so instructors can add customized ions not included in the original decks.

To play Chemdeck card games, divide the students into groups of four to six. Hand out the instructions and review the rules of the game with the students. In each game, the ultimate goal is for students to form correct formulas for ionic compounds using one cation card, one anion card, and two number cards (see Figure 1).

{13948_Background_Figure_1_Correct four-card solution}
The students then calculate the molar mass of the compound using the periodic table provided. Each student enters the formula and molar mass into the Record Sheet. The student in each group with the hand having the largest molar mass wins the hand. Each student then determines the name of his compound and its solubility and enters these in the Chemdeck Record Sheet. The game instructions, periodic table, solubility table and student record sheets included in the kit may be duplicated to give a complete set to each student.


Chemdeck card decks, 120 cards per deck, 5*
Chemdeck card games instructions*
Chemdeck record sheet*
Chemdeck transparency sheet*
Overhead projector
Periodic table*
Scissors or paper cutter
Solubility rules table*
*Materials included in kit. 

Prelab Preparation

  1. Determine the number of student groups to be formed. (Four to six students to a group.)
  2. Make a set of copies of the Chemdeck card games instructions, Chemdeck record sheet, periodic table, and solubility rules table for each student.
  3. With scissors or a paper cutter, cut out the individual cards from the Chemdeck transparency sheet. On the overhead projector, use these cards when explaining the rules of each game.


  1. Divide students into groups of four to six.
  2. Hand out a deck of cards to each group.
  3. Hand out to each student a set of Chemdeck card games instructions, Chemdeck record sheet, periodic table, and solubility rules table.
  4. Review the game rules and go over an example of play on the overhead. Use the individual transparency cards to create examples.
  5. Tell the students to start the game.

Teacher Tips

  • Detailed instructions for playing three different card games are included in the Chemdeck card game instructions.
  • The blank cards may also be used as “wild ”cards in each game. This will increase the odds of each student getting a complete formula.
  • The decks can also be modified for other card games (i.e., “Go Fish”) Got any 2+ cations?
  • Extra credit can be given for “winning” hands.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Developing and using models
Using mathematics and computational thinking

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
HS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter

Crosscutting Concepts

Systems and system models


Special thanks to Ken Barker, Lanape Technical School, Ford City, PA, for submitting this game to Flinn Scientific.

Next Generation Science Standards and NGSS are registered trademarks of Achieve. Neither Achieve nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of this product, and do not endorse it.