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Understand Ionic Bonds

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Atoms are picky – they won't react with everything!  If you don’t give them the right type of partner, then you’re not going to get a reaction out of them. They are like this because they have one aim in their strange world – they want to have a full shell of electrons! 

 

They do this in two main ways, ionic and covalent bonding. We will be looking at how ionic bonding works here, and you will need the periodic table with numbers to be able to do this.

 

The periodic table

 

Ionic bonding

The atoms of the elements in the periodic table try to stabilise by filling their outer shell with more electrons, or by getting rid of some extra ones. They get their electrons when they combine with other atoms of elements that need to get rid of some. When an atom loses electrons (which carry a negative charge), it becomes a positive ion. The atom receiving the electrons becomes a negative ion. The more electrons an atom receives, the bigger the negative charge and the more it loses, the bigger the positive charge.

Metals generally gain electrons because they have spaces in their outer shell that need to be filled, whereas non-metals give their spare electrons to metals. Positive and negative ions attract one another so the compound forms. Metal ions attract a number of other ions and form lattices. The diagram below shows the ionic bond between sodium and chlorine when they form sodium chloride.

 

An image of the electron structure of sodium and chlorine followed by a second image of the electron structure of sodium and chlorine with the outer electron of sodium moved onto the chlorine atom. In the second part each atom is surrounded by brackets with a + next to the sodium brackets and a - next to the chlorine brackets#

 

So, you need to be able to do this yourself – here are some step-by-step instructions to help you if you are ever confronted by a scary ionic bonding question.

In this example, we will be using sodium chloride (as in the example above) – you might want a piece of paper to do this by yourself at home.

 

 

Question  – Draw the ionic bonding for NaCl:

 

Step 1: There is 1 Na and 1 Cl atom in this compound.

 

Step 2: Draw out the Na and Cl atoms. Make sure one is dots and one is crosses.

 

Step 3: Work out how many electrons each needs to gain/lose to make a full outer shell. Na needs to lose 1 and Cl needs to gain 1

 

Step 4: Draw them out again, this time with the moved electrons.

 

Step 5: Put them in square brackets. They get a + if they have lost an electron and a – if they have gained an electron. It is the opposite of what you might think!

 

 

If you follow these steps then you will be an ionic bonding king!

 

Are you ready to have a go at some questions now?

What do all atoms try to do?

Get more electrons

Lose electrons

Form a full outer shell

Which gases are very stable on their own, and are consequently less reactive?

Noble

Nable

Aristocratic

What is the name of the bonding that involves moving electrons?

Covalent

Ionic

Metallic

Will an atom of beryllium gain or lose electrons, and how many? 

Gain 1

Gain 2

Gain 3

Lose 1

Lose 2

Lose 3

What is the charge of electrons?

Neutral

Positive

Negative

What happens to an atom when it gains electrons?

It becomes neutral

It becomes a positive ion

It becomes a negative ion

What happens to an atom when it loses electrons?

It becomes neutral

It becomes a positive ion

It becomes a negative ion

The atomic number for beryllium is 4 and for oxygen is 8.

 

How will the electrons move in the bonding of beryllium oxide, BeO?

Beryllium gains 2 electrons and oxygen loses 2

Beryllium loses 2 electrons and oxygen loses 2

Beryllium loses 2 electrons and oxygen gains 2

Beryllium loses 2 electrons and oxygen loses 1

Ionic bonding of lithium and oxygen

 

What is the charge of each of the atoms?

Lithium is +1 and oxygen is -2

Lithium is +2 and oxygen is -2

Lithium is -1 and oxygen is +2

Lithium is -2 and oxygen is +2

Use the periodic table to find the atomic numbers for magnesium and oxygen.

 

What will be the charge of the magnesium and oxygen ions formed when they combine to make magnesium oxide?

Magnesium +2 and oxygen -2

Magnesium -2 and oxygen +2

Magnesium +1 and oxygen -1

  • Question 1

What do all atoms try to do?

CORRECT ANSWER
Form a full outer shell
EDDIE SAYS
How did you get on with this first question? If you found it a bit tricky to answer, go back and have a read of the Introduction before moving on to the remaining questions. The most stable form of an atom is when it has a full outer shell - this can be achieved by gaining or losing electrons.
  • Question 2

Which gases are very stable on their own, and are consequently less reactive?

CORRECT ANSWER
Noble
EDDIE SAYS
Although the initial question looked difficult, it wasn't too hard to rule out two of the options, was it? Noble gases have complete outer shells so they are very stable, and consequently, non-reactive. They are also known as the inert gases which means that they don't react with other elements.
  • Question 3

What is the name of the bonding that involves moving electrons?

CORRECT ANSWER
Ionic
EDDIE SAYS
Ionic bonding is the moving of electrons from one atom to another to create ions - either positive or negative.
  • Question 4

Will an atom of beryllium gain or lose electrons, and how many? 

CORRECT ANSWER
Lose 2
EDDIE SAYS
How did you get on with this one? All you need to do is to look at the periodic table to find out the atomic number for beryllium. It is 4, which means it has 4 protons and, therefore, 4 electrons. Its 4 electrons are arranged as 2 in the first shell and 2 in the second. It is easier to lose 2 electrons than to gain 6 electrons. So, it will lose 2 electrons to create a complete outer shell.
  • Question 5

What is the charge of electrons?

CORRECT ANSWER
Negative
EDDIE SAYS
A vital fact to know, this one!! Electrons have a negative charge.
  • Question 6

What happens to an atom when it gains electrons?

CORRECT ANSWER
It becomes a negative ion
EDDIE SAYS
Think carefully - what will happen if you add something negative (an electron) to an atom? It becomes a negative ion. Electrons carry a negative charge, so if you have more negatives then you gain a more negative charge.
  • Question 7

What happens to an atom when it loses electrons?

CORRECT ANSWER
It becomes a positive ion
EDDIE SAYS
It becomes a positive ion as it loses the electrons that carry a negative charge. A less negative charge makes something more positive!
  • Question 8

The atomic number for beryllium is 4 and for oxygen is 8.

 

How will the electrons move in the bonding of beryllium oxide, BeO?

CORRECT ANSWER
Beryllium loses 2 electrons and oxygen gains 2
EDDIE SAYS
Remember to use the periodic table if you're not sure about the number of electrons. From the atomic numbers, you'll be able to work out how many electrons each of the elements has in their outer shell. Beryllium has an atomic number of 4, so it has 4 electrons. These are arranged as 2 in its inner shell and 2 in its outer shell. This means that it will lose 2 electrons. Oxygen has an atomic number of 8, so it has 8 electrons. This means it has 2 in its inner shell and 6 in its outer shell, so it wants to gain 2 electrons. This makes them able to combine to make beryllium oxide.
  • Question 9

Ionic bonding of lithium and oxygen

 

What is the charge of each of the atoms?

CORRECT ANSWER
Lithium is +1 and oxygen is -2
EDDIE SAYS
The diagram was there to help you with this question. If you look carefully, you will see that the two lithium atoms both lose an electron and the oxygen atom gains 2. When an atom gains electrons, it becomes negative and when it loses electrons, it become positive. Remember, it is the opposite of what you might think. Because each lithium atom loses one electron, the charge they have now is +1. We talk about the charge of each atom, not the total charge of all of the atoms.
  • Question 10

Use the periodic table to find the atomic numbers for magnesium and oxygen.

 

What will be the charge of the magnesium and oxygen ions formed when they combine to make magnesium oxide?

CORRECT ANSWER
Magnesium +2 and oxygen -2
EDDIE SAYS
Did you find this one difficult? Remember that the periodic table is there to help you. The atomic number for magnesium is 12. This means that magnesium atoms have 12 electrons - 2 in their inner shell, 8 in the next shell and 2 in their outer shell. The atomic number for oxygen is 8, so this means that oxygen atoms have 8 electrons - 2 in their inner shell and 6 in their outer shell. For both magnesium and oxygen to gain full outer shells, magnesium needs to lose 2 electrons and oxygen needs to gain those 2 electrons. This will give magnesium a positive charge, so +2 and oxygen a negative charge of -2. Well done for completing this activity - if you're still not quite sure about this topic why don't you set yourself the challenge of drawing some examples of the ionic bonding of a number of different elements. Use the periodic table to find their atomic numbers.
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