Enjoy teaching light to your third, fourth, and fifth grade students! I’ve selected these engaging activities, links, and freebies just for you.
How to Enjoy Teaching Light
Break out the flashlights! Turn off the lights! Your students will love these engaging science activities. Before you know it, they’ll be making their own scientific generalizations.
- How Does Light Travel? Look in a mirror and touch the right side of your face. Which side of the face is touched in the mirror? Write your name on a piece of paper. Now look at it in the mirror. What happens? Set a textbook upright on the table. Shine a flashlight on the book. Now, using three mirrors, find a way to shine the light on the back of the book. Yep, light sure does travel in a straight line!
- Which Materials Are Transparent, Translucent, and Opaque? Shine a flashlight on the wall. Now place various objects in front of the flashlight (plastic wrap, tissue plate, wood, paper plate, etc.) How much light passes through? Students quickly realize that light travels through clear objects and that density, thickness, and color determine whether an object is translucent or opaque.
- Which Materials Reflect Light? Hold objects one foot from a wall. Shine a flashlight on the side of the object facing the wall. Look at the wall to see if any light reflects. Smooth, dense, shiny objects reflect more light than soft, rough, or bumpy objects.
- What Is Refraction? Fill a clear plastic cup halfway with water. Place a pencil in the cup. Now look at the cup from the side. Why does the pencil appear to be split in half? Place a penny in an empty opaque cup. Look into the cup then back away until the penny is no longer visible. Slowly pour water into the cup. Why does the penny reappear? Place a drop of water on some wax paper. Why does the drop of water magnify objects placed under it? When light travels from a gas (air) into a liquid (water), it is bent, or refracted.
- What Is Color? Shine a flashlight into a prism or onto the surface of a compact disk. Draw a picture of the rainbow you see. Blow a bubble and let it rest on dark paper. Children will quickly realize that white light can be split into a rainbow, or the visible spectrum.
These activities can be used in correlation with your textbook or set out as learning stations.
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- How Does Light Travel? (1:05) Watch how a flashlight, LED flashlight, and laser beam travel through water. It’s clear that light travels in a straight line.
- Which Materials Are Transparent, Translucent, and Opaque? (1:01) This short video provides a great introduction to the terms transparent, translucent, and opaque.
- Which Materials Reflect Light? (2:26) The Science Dad demonstrates how light interacts with different substances by reflecting, transmitting, or absorbing.
- What Is Refraction? (4:40) Cool and colorful demonstration of refraction shows how light can bend when it hits a different state of matter. Because there is no sound, it provides a great visual backdrop for your teaching.
- What Is Color? (3:43) Kids love this fun video with Ludwig Von Drake and “The Spectrum Song.”
- What Is Light? (17:38) This longer video from Show Me Science thoroughly teaches the concept of light.
Enjoy teaching light with a little “Light Reading.” Click on this link for a pdf to use in your classroom.
The Complete Unit
The complete unit, Exploring Light, is available in my Teachers pay Teachers store. It includes a pretest, complete lesson plans, lab sheets, review sheet, flash cards, and a posttest. As an added bonus, the link to a corresponding student website is included.
I post new ideas, activities, and free downloads every week. Click here for an index (and to see what’s coming soon!)
Enjoy teaching light!