Light & Sound – Year 5 & 6

Light and Sound for KidsLight & sound for Year 5 & 6 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 sliver 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 affect the direction of the light?

How we see things

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

How light works


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 a wall that may be 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!

To see above the sea water, submarines use mirrors inside a periscope. 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, light bends as it travels, sometimes making things look bendy in the water.

Glass bendingHands onGlass bending

Fill a glass with water and put a pencil, ruler or a straw into it. Have a look through the side of the glass. Does the object that you put in still look straight? This shows how light bends in water.


Hands onMagic stamp

Magic StampPlace a stamp on a table and put an empty jar with a lid, over it. Take a look and 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 and you can you see the stamp clearly from above, but what about from the side, can you still see it?  Wow! 


Hands onMagic coin

Magic coinLight cannot only make things disappear but also 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 trick of bending light through the water.

How shadows work

Light travels in straight lines which means it does not bend. So when something gets in the way it forms a shadow, an area of dark where light cannot 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 source you will get a smaller 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 shorter 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 different colours. When the sun shines through water, the water splits the light into all the colours of a rainbow. So 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 sunlight is shining through the raindrops and splitting it up into all the colours and projecting it onto 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 caused 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 next experiment works best on a sunny day. Take the glass of water outside in the sunshine. Hold the glass over a piece of white paper and move it slowly until you see a rainbow.

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