Year 3: Light
This list consists of lesson plans, activities, video clips and interactive resources to support the teaching of light in Year Three. 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:
• recognise that they need light in order to see things and that dark is the absence of light
• notice that light is reflected from surfaces
• recognise that light from the sun can be dangerous and that there are ways to protect their eyes
• recognise that shadows are formed when the light from a light source is blocked by a solid object
• find patterns in the way that the size of shadows change.
Visit the primary science webpage to access all lists.
Links and Resources
The first 7 slides of the presentation show different sources of light including light from cold sources, which helps with the misconception that only hot objects give out light. Using the activity with feely bags helps children understand that when there is no light in the bag we cannot see inside it. When the torch shines in the bag they can see the objects. This is because light bounces off the objects in the bag and travels to their eyes.
Though aimed at older children the idea of modelling light using a ribbon and other techniques used in this short demonstration could be used in Year 3. Children could model how light travels from different sources in a straight line and how light is reflected from certain surfaces, changing the direction it travels. Working in groups children could then build their own model and draw what is happening on a large sheet of paper. This helps children see that light can not bend around things or travel through objects. It also helps them see how a shadow is formed as the light can not pass through opaque object.
This guide for teaching the topic of light is an older, but very useful resource. It details the SPACE approach, in which children explore from their own experience and ideas, then to become deeply involved in work based on their own ideas. Containing ideas of how to use this approach in the classroom and ideas for activities, also included are examples of children's work which highlight progression in learning and possible misconceptions which may arise when teaching this topic.
Children may still think that light can travel around objects rather than in a straight line. Carrying out an investigation looking at sundials and shadows is a great way of allowing children to see that light travels in a straight line and is blocked by the sun dial forming a shadow. Pages 12-18 look at shadow and sundial investigations.
Investigating what happens to the shadows over the course of a day will help children see that shadows change in length and position through the day. Key vocabulary is also listed to help children.
This video explores how shadow puppets can be used to explore light, shadows and storytelling.The way characters appear and disappear illustrates 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. They could work scientically to investigate what happens to shadows when the light source moves further away or closer to the puppet.
This activity encourages children to work scientifically to investigate and find a solution to an everyday problem. Putting the investigation into a context, that of a man who works nights and needs to sleep in the day, gives them a reason for carrying out the investigation. Using the knowledge that an opaque material would be the best for replacement curtains, children test a collection of different samples, analysing the shadows formed and then recording the light levels with a data logger. The lesson idea is on pages 17-18 of the pdf.