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Preschool Activities on Light: 4 Ideas Plus a Book List

written by: Kara Bietz • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 12/14/2014

Brighten up your preschool science curriculum by using some of these light activities. This article includes links to other light activities for preschoolers as well as several book recommendations.

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    Flashlight Play

    Introducing your preschoolers to the concept of light may seem like a daunting task. Light is a very complex concept, but by introducing The Magic School Bus Gets a Bright Idea by White and Speirs some of these preschool activities about light, you can make it a fun and interesting lesson. Use some of the ideas below to incorporate lessons about the properties of light into your preschool curriculum.

    Before beginning your preschool lessons about light, help students understand the unique properties of light with something as simple as flashlights. Have several available in your classroom for children to explore on their own. You may need to give simple instructions for safe flashlight use such as keeping the light away from your eyes, turning off the flashlight when you are finished, and being sure to tell a teacher when the batteries are running down. Show your preschoolers how to shine the light into dark corners, under tables, and up on the ceiling. Try having your morning circle time by flashlight one day. Create caves with blankets for the children to explore with their flashlights.

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    Transparent Vs. Opaque

    Once the children are confident flashlight users, introduce the concept of transparent versus opaque. Gather several classroom objects Oscar and the Moth by Waring and a few flashlights. Explain that light is able to shine through certain objects, and these items are called transparent. Other items, however, will not let light through, and this are called opaque. Create a chart with a large piece of posterboard. Draw a line down the middle of the poster, labeling one side "transparent" and the other side "opaque". With the materials you gathered earlier, allow the children to discuss whether they believe each object selected is opaque or transparent. Write down the children's guesses on the poster. Test the children's theories by shining a flashlight through each object. Have the children record the results.

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    Explain that human bodies are opaque, which means the light does not shine through us. On a sunny day, go outdoors and look for your Why Cant I Slide Down a Rainbow by Hewitt shadows. Pose in many different ways to see how your shadow changes. Using sidewalk chalk, allow the children to trace your shadow or a friend's shadow. If there is a large wall available, try making shadow puppet shapes with your hands. This activity can also be done indoors with flashlights if necessary.

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    Color Mixing

    Using colored cellophane and flashlights, show children that you can change the color of light by placing a colored transparent sheet Spots of Light A Book About Stars by Rau and Shea over it. Allow the children to explore the cellophane and flashlights on their own. Using primary colored cellophane, ask the children what colors they can make by mixing two. What happens when they mix three or more colors?

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    Expand your preschool light curriculum using these black and white art project ideas. Night Light A Book About the Moon by Rau Some age-appropriate books about light are:

    • The Magic School Bus Gets A Bright Idea: A Book About Light, by Nancy White and John Speirs
    • Oscar and the Moth: A Book About Light and Dark, by Geoff Waring
    • Why Can't I Slide Down a Rainbow? Questions About Light, by Sally Hewitt
    • Spots of Light: A Book About Stars, by Meachen Rau
    • Night Light: A Book About the Moon, by Meachen Rau