Year 4: Electricity
This list consists of lesson plans, activities and video clips to support the teaching of electricity in Year Four. It contains tips on using the resources, suggestions for further use and background subject knowledge. Possible misconceptions are highlighted so that teachers may plan lessons to facilitate correct conceptual understanding. Designed to support the new curriculum programme of study it aims to cover many of the requirements for knowledge and understanding and working scientifically. The statutory requirements are that children are taught to:
• identify common appliances that run on electricity
• construct a simple series electrical circuit, identifying and naming its basic parts, including cells, wires, bulbs, switches and buzzers
• identify whether or not a lamp will light in a simple series circuit, based on whether or not the lamp is part of a complete loop with a battery
• recognise that a switch opens and closes a circuit and associate this with whether or not a lamp lights in a simple series circuit
• recognise some common conductors and insulators, and associate metals with being good conductors.
Visit the primary science webpage to access all lists.
Links and Resources
This starter clip is a great way to provoke discussion about common appliances that run on electricity. Children could note down the electrical appliances on whiteboards as they watch then compare with their partner at the end of the film. After watching they could list further appliances in the home or classroom that run on electricity.
Discuss which appliances require mains electricity and which run on batteries also which could use either and construct a Venn diagram to show this.
This series of lessons provides many ideas for use and adaptation in the class as well as key words and visual resources. The lessons look at: Mains electricity and batteries, electrical conductors, cables and plugs, switches and brightness of bulbs.
Session A introduces the components of circuits and asks children to construct their own series circuits predicting which will work and saying why. It includes key vocabulary and circuit symbols and a game to help children become more familiar with them. In Session C children investigate which materials are good electrical conductors and insulators and name materials that are good at electrical conduction and insulation. In a further lesson children could apply this knowledge when creating their own switches.
This powerpoint and teachers' notes contain several useful activities and demonstrations including misconceptions that children have about the topic and how to develop their understanding.
Role-playing electrons in a circuit (Activity 5) will help children to see how current flows and that a complete circuit is necessary for a circuit to work. One child could represent a switch to demonstrate how it can be used to break the circuit so that the current stops and the lamp goes out. This real life simulation helps show children that the electrons do not all rush back to the battery.
Be careful not to imply that the electrons stop moving completely, perhaps by having children jiggling about on the spot!
The activities in this video could be used to assess the understanding of circuits whilst providing a context and incentive- a Electrician's Certificate. Children perform a variety of timed tasks in order to receive their Electrician's Certificate. Tasks include making a circuit with a light in it, making a circuit with a buzzer and making a circuit with two lights. They then go on to design and build a burglar alarm.
A great way of reinforcing and assessing learning at the end of the topic. This fun and engaging project asks children to create a variety of electrical circuits to make a clown with a nose that lights up and a bow tie that spins. Children use their knowledge to create circuits and switches to create their clowns.