Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry

Timing: One Class Period

Prior Knowledge: Students should be familiar with VSEPR & ready to put their knowledge to work!

  • Candy gumdrops, modeling clay or playdoh can be used to make single atoms.
  • Toothpicks, pipe cleaners, or Q-tips can be used for the bonds.
  • Scissors
  • Model Kits can be used if you have them.
  • Protractors to measure bond angles (optional)

Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry


This activity gives students an opportunity to interact with molecular molecules. Students will draw Lewis structures of select molecular compounds, and then construct a 3D model of the molecules. 2D to 3D! Finally, students will name the model according to VSEPR.


Provide students with materials to make models of different molecular compounds. When I first started teaching, I used different materials through the years such as Play-Doh, gumdrops, beads, etc, or you can use a combination of materials.

I slowly added model kits to my inventory by adding a couple each year from my budget. I like the organic model kits. Now, I have 8 sets of the model kits. Looking back, though, I think students were more engaged when using different materials and making their own models. Who knew! I would suggest that you purchase at least one of the kits, though, to use for a demo kit. It can be used to model different compounds in front of the class for students to easily visualize.

Another thing that you may want to add, is a large piece of butcher paper for each group to place their models on and label them with the compound name and VSEPR identification. White boards work great for this also.

Let the Creativity Shine!

One thing that a lot of model kits don’t have is a way to show the lone pairs and their affects on the shared pairs. You may want to have students come up with ways to include lone pairs in their models. (flattened out clay the same color as the central atom for one suggestion)

Students will need to create a key for the colors used for certain atoms. Use the clay to create their key, or use colored circles.

If you have time, this is a great activity to let the students do a gallery walk to see everyone’s work!


This activity is included in our Chemical Bonding Unit:


Lab Instructions – student copy
(You can print this in grayscale and it works just fine. two per group, class set)
Student Lab Handout

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