Primary resource round up: Light

By Rachel Jackson posted 04-05-2021 10:23


This week I’m sharing share seven resources for teaching light to primary school children:

Start off with an odd one out where children talk about different sources of light  It’s a great one for finding out any existing ideas that children have about light sources, before finding out more on the topic.

Light is a tricky topic for many children and is open to many misconceptions. Try modelling light using a ribbon as shown in this short demonstration, which illustrates that light travels in a straight line from a light source, reflects off an object, and then enters the eye. This model can help to address misconceptions and further understanding of this concept.

Why not have a look at how shadow puppets can be used to explore light, shadows and storytelling. This video shows different characters appearing and disappearing, helping to illustrate how shadows are formed and how they change when objects are put in front of a light source. Children could make their own puppets to tell a story or work scientifically to investigate what happens to shadows when the light source moves further away or closer to the puppet.

A periscope is a device that enables us to see over walls or round corners. This is because rays of light hit the mirror of the periscope and are reflected twice. The beam of light is reflected through 90 degrees, because the mirrors are at a 45-degree angle to the path of the light ray. This hands-on activity provides a template and instructions to create periscopes, which children can then explore and explain how they work.

This resource contains a video where a teacher sets up and runs an investigation to find out what affects the size of a shadow. Children use their own shadow puppets to investigate how the shadow size changes as they change the distance between light source and screen. Further videos show Brian Cox finding out more about how shadows are used in X-rays and talking about how eclipses occur.

This is a fun activity, which you could show the video to class and ask children to try and explain what they see or even set up the activity themselves. It involves light passing through a jar. When empty light passes through, after it has been filled with water, the light bends or refracts. The water makes the light change direction, the light from the left side of the paper moves to the right and vice versa. Because the light is reflected like a mirror, we see the word reversed.

This easy- to-use sheet provides the key learning, vocabulary and 4 easy to run activities for each topic in Y6. These sheets may be sent home, so children can carry on learning science whilst self-isolating, or they can be used in class.




19-10-2022 07:55

@Kirsty Ross The link you posted for the OPTIMA resources appears to be broken​. I found that deleteing the "glasgow-science-festival" part of the URL seems to work but the DOI links for the individual documents - rainbows and cyanotypes - also appearto be broken. Please could you check all the links as I'd like to take a look at the resources and I'm sure there will be others who click-through too!

05-05-2021 09:48

I'm an outreach officer working for the EPSRC/MRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Optical Medical Imaging (OPTIMA), based at the University of Edinburgh and University of Strathclyde. We've developed a series of resources relating to light and you can find some of them on our website: OPTIMA resources.

I'd also be more than happy to post materials to you, if cost would be a barrier to giving these activities a go! Feel free to get in touch with me :-)