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20 October 2014
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Light and shadows - lesson plan

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An owl in torchlight

  1. To know that light travels from a source.
  2. To understand that shadows form when light travelling from a source is blocked.

National Curriculum

Sc4, 3a, 3b.


  • Online activities:
    • Bitesize light and dark section: play, quiz
  • Worksheets:
  • Other resources:
    • Cards showing key words - transparent, translucent, opaque
    • Interactive whiteboard
    • Computers (one for each group)

Teaching activities


  1. Play the Bitesize light and shadows quiz as a class to assess what the children already know.
  2. Place key words (transparent, translucent, opaque) around the room.
  3. Call out an object and ask the children to run to the correct scientific term.
  4. Ask the question - What happens to a shadow when the light source is made dimmer?
  5. Ask the children to form pairs and discuss the question.
  6. Ask the middle ability group to create a prediction and the higher ability group to create a hypothesis.
  7. Ask the question - What happens to a shadow when the light source is moved further away?


  1. Show the class on the interactive whiteboard how to manipulate the variables on the Bitesize light and dark activity: 1) How to place different objects from the menu onto the screen, 2) How to make the light source dimmer or brighter and 3) How to move the light source up and down or forwards and backwards.
  2. Once the children understand how the activity works, divide them into groups with a computer for each group and let them work through the tasks on the screen.
  3. Encourage the children to try the same actions with different objects. Which objects make the best shadows?
  4. Ask the children to record their findings as they work through the activity.
  5. Ask the middle ability group to record as a two-part conclusion and the higher ability group to record using scientific terms (eg opaque, transparent).


  1. To assess the children's grasp of the activity, place the toy duck onto the screen and perform the following actions: 1) Make the light dimmer and brighter, 2) Move the light forwards and backwards, 3) Move the light up and down. Ask the children to explain the effect in each case.
  2. Encourage the children to create a two-part conclusion, explaining both parts to the observation (eg The dimmer the light source on the opaque object, the lighter the shadow, therefore the brighter the light source on the opaque object, the darker the shadow).


  1. Allow the children to click on the outside screen to experiment with how the sun casts shadows of objects on the ground.
  2. Ask the children to complete the Light and shadows worksheet (PDF 1.57MB).
  3. Ask the children to complete the Bitesize light and shadows quiz again. Has their score improved? Ask them to name two key learning points.


  1. Ask the children, with permission and supervision, to place different objects (eg rubber duck, cutlery, cups and glasses) onto a table at home and see the shadows change as a light is shone on them in different ways.
  2. Explain that they should experiment with turning the light source on and off, making it brighter and dimmer (if possible), moving it forwards and backwards and up or down to see how these changes affect the shadows.

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