Classroom Activities for Teaching About Light
In this set of activities adaptable for grades K-3, parents and educators will find ideas for teaching about light. These activities are designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. Light topic page, which includes a movie, quizzes, online games, printable activities, and more.
Ask your students to work in pairs, and have them collect small objects around the classroom. Then give each pair a flashlight and turn off the lights in the classroom. Have one student place an object in front of the flashlight and have the other student guess the object that made the shadow. What clues did he or she use to find the answer? Encourage students to write their thoughts and ideas down in their notebooks. Then have pairs experiment using the flashlight to change the shape of the shadow. How can you make the shadow bigger? How can you make the shadow smaller? Do some objects create a darker shadow, and some a lighter one? Why would that happen? Discuss results with the entire class.
For this activity you will need several flashlights, tin foil, small mirrors, and a few small objects. You may want to ask students to bring a flashlight from home or ask parents to lend their flashlights to the class for a few days. Cover the front of each flashlight with tin foil and poke a small hole in the center. Then divide your class into partners or groups and give each group a full set of materials. Turn off the classroom lights and ask students to shine their lights onto the mirrors. What happens? What happens when they move their mirrors around? Then ask them to place their objects in different locations around the classroom and try to “hit” their object with their light beam. You may also want to challenge them to “hit” other items in the classroom: charts, the clock, speakers, etc. After, allow time for students discuss what they have learned about light and how it travels.
To connect reading and writing to science, have your students make shadow puppets by cutting different shapes or animals out of black or opaque construction paper. Students can then tape or glue craft sticks or pencils to their cutouts to make puppets easier to hold. Have students write a story using their shadow puppets. Then use a flashlight or a camping lantern so students can cast their shadows to tell and act out their stories.
Family and Homeschool Activities for Teaching About Light
Together with your child, look for your reflections in different objects in your home. You can find your reflection in tea kettles, pots and pans, mirrors, and metal pipes and tools. If you take a walk, your child will see his or her reflection in car doors, and in shop windows. Remind your child that when a light hits a smooth, flat object like a mirror, it bounces back in roughly the same direction. When light hits a bumpy object, it bounces back in different directions. As a result you see a distorted or “funny” reflection. Experiment looking at your reflection in different surfaces and feel free to make funny faces!
Remind your child that light can pass through some objects, but can’t pass through others. Some objects block some light and let some light through. Gather different objects and have your child predict if the object is opaque, transparent, or translucent. Choose a variety of objects such as wooden blocks, a glass, or tissue paper. Then use a flashlight to shine on the object to test your child’s predictions.
Can You Grab It?
Collect a bunch of small objects of different shapes and sizes. Then fill a few big glass bowls or wide glass vases with water. Drop the objects into the containers. Challenge you child to grab the objects while looking at the bowl from above, and then from the side. Discuss how light refracts and bends when it passes from air to water, so this challenge might be trickier than your child expects because the objects may look like they are in a different location, or even as if they are broken.