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20 October 2014
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Changing circuits - lesson plan

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A circuit with a light bulbTo understand that bulbs can be made brighter or dimmer in a series circuit by changing the number or type of components

National Curriculum

Sc4, 1b.


You will need Adobe Acrobat reader to access the PDF files. BBC Webwise has a complete guide to downloading and installing Adobe Acrobat reader.

Teaching activities


  1. Place the symbol cards around the room.
  2. Ask the children what the symbol for a battery is and tell them to run to the correct symbol.
  3. Repeat this activity with the other cards. (If the children are in groups, one child from each group could be chosen to run to the symbol).
  4. Ask the children what is needed to make an electrical circuit complete and the bulb to light up. Discuss the components and reinforce the word 'complete'.
  5. Ask the children to complete the Changing circuits worksheet (PDF 1.45MB) in pairs.


  1. Ask the children how a bulb can be made brighter.
  2. Ask them to get into pairs and investigate the question using the Bitesize changing circuits game. Provide electrical equipment to reinforce the learning.
  3. Ask the middle and higher ability groups to also investigate how to make the bulb dimmer and the effect of changing the straight wire for a coiled wire.


  1. Either in pairs or as a class play the Bitesize changing circuits quiz.
  2. Reinforce key questions if necessary: What made the bulb brighter? What made the bulb dimmer? Discuss the reasons for this. What happened when you used two batteries for one bulb? Why?
  3. Explain to the children that too much electricity running through the filament of the bulb destroys the filament.
  4. What happened when you swapped straight wire for coiled wire? Why?


  1. Ask the children to play the Pod Mission game - read through the pages and create their own 'Who wants to be a millionaire' style quiz.
  2. Or ask the children to draw circuit diagrams for the circuits created.
  3. Or ask the children to investigate wires using reference books and CD-ROMs. What is the difference between fuse wire and normal wire used in electric circuits? Why is wire usually covered in plastic? What kind of wire is used in electric circuits?


  1. Ask the children to compose a poster showing the dangers of mains electricity.
  2. Or ask the children to play the Digger and the Gang game.

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