Perhaps it would help to view it this way....
Elements are those things which make up everything around you. They make up plants, rocks, trees, people, animals...in fact the entire planet. In the Western Magical Tradition, there are typically four Elements, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Some Western systems add a fifth Element of Spirit.
Elementals are essentially the spirit or living representative of an Element. They are beings with the ability to act independently or to respond to the Will of the magic user if that individual is strong enough to control them...remember they have a will of their own. The most common association of Elements to Elementals is...
Air - Sylphs
Fire - Salamanders
Water - Undines
Earth - Gnomes