The electricity activity is the perfect one for a budding scientist, which is pretty much every child, so curious about the world and how “things” work. You know we're a bit science obsessed as seen with our Friction experiment and Balloon Rocket. The activity is ideally suited for kindergarten and up but can be adjusted to work for a slightly younger child and certainly an older child. My 3.5 year old is definitely intrigued but my 5-year-old “got it”. Here is a wonderfully rich way to learn electricity with kids.
Learn Electricity with Kids
Did you know that I offer a Montessori Science Bundle?
The purpose of this activity is to test materials to understand what materials conduct or resist or “insulate” electric current.
Science of Electricity Materials
- Small Bulb
- Aluminum Foil (folded lengthwise and “rolled” up)
- Tray or table for work space
- Objects to test such as a key, an eraser, a coin, a nail, a piece of chalk, a piece of wood, and a candle. Older children can test materials such as aluminum, copper, nickel, and tin.
- Paper and Pencil to record results
- Conductor and Insulator Sorting Worksheet
Electricity Experiment Approach
- Gather battery and bulb (I used an old flashlight bulb and battery)
- Seek out materials and objects to test (I found many useful testers around my home)
- Play on tray or work space
- Present to your child
- Explain the activity in detail and words appropriate to the child's developmental stage
- Point to the battery, the bulb, and the foil
- Ask the child to roll the foil
- Point to the bowl of objects (for younger students)/materials (for older students) and talk about conductivity and insulation
- Test objects by placing the object between the battery and the bulb, then touching the foil to the base of the bulb. The bulb should light up (or not).
- Encourage children to take notes about the objects/materials and their observation
- For preschool or kindergarten, sort the objects/materials into conductors or insulators
- For elementary, make a graph of weakest to strongest conductors (since conductivity is a matter or degree)
- Ask questions about the materials that insulated best, or did not insulate well
- Have the child brainstorm a list of objects or materials that might conduct (or insulate).
- Have a younger child roll the foil for the great fine motor work
- Have a child hold the object or material as you test with the foil (or vice versa)
- Ask the child ahead of time what objects he believes may conduct electricity, and why
- Assess the child's learning by testing a clothespin (or another object with both insulator and conductor attributes). Is it a conductor or an insulator? Which parts of the clothespin will light the bulb?
Download this Electricity Observation Sheet!