Types of Chemical Reactions

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Students will be able to pull from prior knowledge to explain four different types of chemical reactions.

Big Idea

Using knowledge gained from previous lessons, students will diagram and illustrate the four different types of chemical reactions (synthesis, decomposition, combustion, replacement).

NGSS Background

This lesson is based on California's Middle School Integrated Model of NGSS and is a culminating activity for my chemical reactions unit.

NGSS Performance Expectation (PE): (MS-PS1-2) Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occured.

Science and Engineering Practice (SP) 6: Constructing explanations and designing solutions.

Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI): PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter - Substances are made from different types of atoms, which combine with one another in various ways. Atoms form molecules that range in size from two to thousands of atoms.

Crosscutting Concepts (CCC): Cause and Effect - Cause and Effect relationships may be used tp predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

With this lesson students must have a firm understanding of the different types of chemical reactions (synthesis, decomposition, combustion, replacement) in order to construct explanations of the each type (SP6). They must also comprehend that chemical reactions rearrange atoms into different molecules (MS-PS1-2, PS1.A). This assignment requires the students to understand the phenomenon and explain what is occurring (SP6) and what the effects will be with different types of reactions (CCC).

Connection to Other Lessons

120 minutes

Leading up to this lesson I introduce different types of chemical reactions that my students can draw upon for reference. To help my students remember the four types of chemical reactions I developed a mnemonic sentence

Squids don't carry roses.

synthesis, decomposition, combustion, replacement

Synthesis Reaction

Sodium metal heated into a liquid then immersed in chlorine gas (I don't provide an example of a synthesis reaction - too dangerous without a hood. We discuss this reaction often in class, so this is the video I show).

Decomposition Reaction

Decomposing Hydrogen Peroxide Demonstration (Elephant's Toothpaste)


Combustion Reactions

Start with a Bang! Isopropyl Alcohol Exothermic Combustion Demonstration

 Replacement Reaction

Hydrogen Balloon Explosion Demonstration


Student Activity

30 minutes

The students have thirty minutes to draw four pictures that represent each chemical reaction. It is due at the end of the period. They are allow to do research on their Chromebooks or refer to their Science Notebooks (preferred).

TIP: I've had poor success allowing the students the opportunity to bring this assignment home and work on it as homework - they played during class. They work better for me if they know they can only work on it in class.

Each drawing must include:

  1. Title
  2. Multi-sentence example
  3. Drawing (3 color minimum)
  4. Labels
  5. Example reaction

Student Work







45 minutes

To complement this lesson I have created a PowerPoint along with a mnemonic sentence.

Types of Chemical Reactions

Squids don't carry roses.

  1. synthesis reactions
  2. decomposition reactions
  3. combustion reactions
  4. replacement reactions