Mary, that is too bad about not being able to do the experiments when you
were younger, they were fun.
The periodic table is not complicated, but it takes eithersight or a properly oriented Braille display of it for it to become sensible.
Horizontally there are groupings, the top row has only hydrogen on the left and helium on the right, they have the lowest atomic numbers. After the third row, they go all the way across, 7 or 8 across. Vertically, they are arranged according to fammilies. For example, the rightmost are those with stable outer electron shells, including the inert gasses like krypton, argon and neon.
The most active elements are on the left of the rows, the least active on the right. So, really active ones like sodium and potassium are on the left side and the more inactive ones like those I mentioned and the halogens are on the right.
As a rule, the elements on the left of the chart have a positive oxidation state and those on the right have a negative one. Chemical reactions are governed by a matching up of oxidation states, if they do not add to zero, you have an ion and not a molecule...with the exception of gasses like oxygen that have a bivalent molecular structure, always in pairs.
Anyway, I am getting carried away with myself, I love chemistry and physics, both.
Sadly, the kind of science books I want to read now are generally unavailable from web Braille or any other source, they being advanced cosmology, high energy physics and truly esoteric stuff like superstring theory and quantum physics.