Light & Sound – Year 5 & 6

Light and Sound for KidsLight sound for kids at Super Brainy Beans. Science homework help with how light helps us see things and how shadows can change. For children in Year 5 and 6, Key Stage 2 (KS2).

How light travels

Hands onLight travels in a straight lineLight travels in a straight line. You can see this by cutting a very small slither out of a piece of card. Using a torch shine the light through the card. You can see that the light travels in a straight line. If you have a mirror put this in the path of the line and see how it bends. It maybe faint but you may just be able to make it out.

BBC Bitesize - LightLight
Sarah Jane’s Rani is trapped in the Spellman’s Circus Hall of Mirrors! Use your knowledge of light to guide her to safety.
How we see thingsHow we see things
Drag the different angled mirrors into the path of the light. How does each change the direction of the light?

How we see things

We can see things because the light is bouncing off (reflecting) the objects around us and into our eyes.

How light works video


Mirrors reflect light. They also reflect light at the same angle. If you look below the light ray coming in on the left bounces back out at the same angle on the right. This is very useful if you needed to look around corners. Placing the mirror in the right place will let you see around the wall in the way. Try this at home. Find a mirror and see if you can spy on your parents without them knowing you are there.

Submarines use mirrors (called a periscope) to see above the water. The light ray is bounced off several mirrors and into the eye of the person viewing.

Bending light

Light travels in a straight line through the air. In water the light bends as it travels making things look sometimes bendy in water.

Glass bendingHands onGlass bending

Fill a glass of water and put a pencil, ruler or straw into it. have a look through the side of the glass. Does what you put in stay straight? This shows the light bending in water.

Hands onMagic stamp

Magic StampPut an empty jar with a lid over a stamp. Take a look you should see the stamp. Now fill the jar up with water and put the lid back on. Now can you see the stamp?

The water is bending the light so much that you can’t see the stamp anymore. Take the lid off can see the stamp from above, what about the side, still can’t? Wow, bending light or magic that’s cool.

Hands onMagic coin

Magic coinLight can not only make things disappear but reappear again. Try this.

Take a coin and using plasticine or similar stick it to the bottom of a bowl.

Step back slowly so that you can’t see the coin from the bowl. Now slowly fill the bowl with water until you see the coin magically appear. Again it’s all a tick of bending the light through water.

How shadows work

Light travel in straight lines which means it can not bend. So when something gets in the way it forms a shadow, an area of dark where no light can get to.

Shadows change depending on how close the light source is to the object. If the object is close to the light source you will get a big shadow. If the object is far away from the light source you will get a small shadow.

Shadows also change depending on the time of day. In the mornings and evenings the sun is low and creates long shadows. In the middle of the day the sun is high in the sky and creates short shadows. No matter where the light source is the shape of the shadow will always be the same. It is just smaller, longer, shorter or bigger.

Hands onTesting shadows – On a sunny day take some objects outside and lay them on a patio. With some chalk draw round the shadows they create at different times of the day. Notice how they are different?

BBC Bitesize - ShadowsShadows
Help Steve to take a good picture of the king cobra for his Deadly 60 list – but stick to the shadows, or he’ll get bitten.


Light is made up from many colours. Then the sun shines through water, the water splits the light into all the colours of a rainbow. If it is raining and the sun is out you will see a rainbow. Stand with your back to the sun and you will see the rainbow in the sky. The sun light is shining through the raindrops and splitting it up into all the colours and projecting it into the sky.

How do we get a double rainbow?

When we see a double rainbow the light is being split twice through the raindrops. Next time you see a double rainbow take a look. The second rainbow is always fainter and the colours are reversed. This is all cause by the refection of the light through the raindrops.

Water rainbowHands onWater rainbow

Shine a torch through a glass of water in a dark room. Twist the glass a little until you see a rainbow on the table or on the wall.
This works best on a sunny day. Take the glass of water outside in the sunshine. Hold the glass over a piece of white paper until you see the rainbow.

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