Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Heat and Light

published on: 2/11/2005

Contributing Teacher(s): Stacey Sparks

Subject Area: Science/Physical

Grade Range: Lower Elementary (K-3)

Materials Needed:

  • Winter Days in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Predictable Charts by Dorothy Hall and Elaine Williams
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Drawing paper
  • Candle
  • Light bulb (lamp)
  • Fluorescent bulb
  • Flashlights
  • Objects or pictures of objects that produce light
  • thermometer
  • Power From the Sun by Meredith Costain
  • Yellow Construction Paper cut into circles the size of a paper plate
  • Yellow Construction Paper cut into 12X2 rectangles.


    • Students will identify and consider a variety of light sources to determine which of those sources give off heat.
    • Students will discover that the sun is the primary source of light and heat for the Earth.

    Process Standards:

    • Goal 1.6 discover and evaluate patterns and relationships in information, ideas and structures
    • Goal 3.5 reason inductively from a set of specific facts and deductively from general premises

    Content Standards:

    • Science 1. Properties and principles of matter and energy

      Time Allowance: Approximately 30 minutes a day for 7 days

      Description: Hands on experiences to identify sources that give off light and heat with the sun as the primary source.

      Comments: Annotated Frameworks: SC III/B/1 and SC III/C/1

      Classroom Component:
      Through this cross-curricular unit, students will be reading, writing, and have hands-on experiences to identify sources that give off light and heat with the sun as the primary source.


      Day 1

      Read Winter Days in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder aloud to the students. Using a Venn diagram as a graphic organizer, compare the way of life as explained in the story to the way of life today. Students should notice that in the story there was not electricity. If the students do not mention this then the teacher will need to ask leading questions such as "How did they see in the cabin? Did you notice any light switches in the pictures?" The teacher may want to show the students the pictures again while discussing that the cabin was lit by candles, by fire, by lanterns, and by sunlight during the day. Compare the past with how we now have lights and electricity.

      Day 2

      Looking at the Venn diagram, circle all the sources of light listed from day 1's discussion. As a class make a predictable chart of light sources on big chart paper. The title of the chart should be Light Sources. The predictable sentence the students will fill in should be "An object that gives off light is _______. An example of the predictable chart is shown below.

      Light Sources

      An object that gives off light is source of light. (name of student who gave example)
      An object that gives off light is fire ____________________.
      An object that gives off light is a flashlight ____________________.
      An object that gives off light is the sun____________________.

      Have each student complete one sentence. It is fine if some students list the same examples. When each student has given an example, have the students point to the words of their sentence as the class reads it aloud. Predictable Charts by Dorothy Hall and Elaine Williams has more information on how to write predictable charts.

      Day 3

      The teacher will need to either have typed the sentences from day 2's predictable chart onto another piece of paper or the teacher will need to cut the predictable chart so that each child will have a copy of their sentence. The students will also need a piece of drawing paper. Depending on the students' ability level, either have students glue their sentence onto the drawing paper or copy their sentence onto the paper. The students are then able to illustrate their sentence. After the students are finished the teacher may bind the pages into a book.

      Day 4

      Read the student created Light Sources book. Tell students that they are going to examine the objects we read about in the Light Sources book to determine if the objects produce heat. Have candles, light bulbs (lamps), fluorescent lights, flashlights, as well as the other light sources mentioned in the book available. Discuss how some objects that give off light also give off heat. Actually plug in, turn, on, light etc. one object at a time to let students physically feel for heat with their hands and bodies. Be sure to remind the students to put their hands close to the sources of light, but not to actually touch it. This activity will require close supervision since we do not want any students to get burned. While feeling for heat from the first source, ask students if anyone knows what type of tool could be used to determine to see if the object was producing heat. Once someone has mentioned that a thermometer is used to tell the temperature, read the thermometer and record the temperature of the classroom. For the remaining light sources, as students are physically feeling for heat place the thermometer close to the light source. Read the temperature on the thermometer and compare it to the original temperature of the classroom. An increase in temperature would be another indicator to students that the object was giving off heat. Place the objects into two different piles once each light source has been identified as giving off heat or not giving off heat. For objects that are not physically possible to have in the classroom such as the sun or lightning, use a picture or drawing. Record and compare the temperature using a thermometer in a sunny area as well as in a shady area. Lead the students in a discussion of how the sun gives off heat causing the temperature to be higher in a sunny area than in a cloudy area. The students should be able to feel the heat they feel coming from the sun. If it is not sunny, remind students how they feel in the summer when the sun is shining. In the discussion also compare how the temperature changes if the sun is shining or if the sun is behind a cloud.

      Day 5

      Begin the day, by having the students divide a white piece of drawing paper into fourths. In each section have the children illustrate and label 1 object that gives off both heat and light. Please see the scoring guide of heat and light illustrations located with the assessments for more details. Once the papers are collected, have students orally tell the sources of light and heat they drew. When the sun is mentioned, explain that the sun is the primary source of light and heat for the Earth. Tell students that it means the sun is the main object we get heat from. The teacher reads aloud and discusses each page of Power From the Sun to help students visualize the importance of the sun as the main source of heat and light for all life on Earth. Students should have the opportunity to read Power From the Sun either through choral reading, echo reading, silent reading, or reading with a partner.

      Day 6

      After rereading the book Power From the Sun either through choral reading, echo reading, or silent reading, the students should be placed in cooperative learning groups of 3-4 students. When assigning students to a cooperative learning group, keep in mind the ability level of all students and any modifications that should be met for special needs students so that each group will have students of various abilities in order to best complete the project. Allow the students in the groups discuss what does come from the sun? Why is the sun important? Following the discussions, the groups will be creating their own sun out of yellow construction paper. Each ray of sunshine, which will be a yellow rectangular piece of construction paper, will be labeled and illustrated with an example of when the sun is being used for light or heat. Each group should have at least 5 examples, or rays. For example, students may label rays with examples such as solar powered cars, plants growing, clothes drying due to the suns heat, people sweating, etc. Their examples may be from the story Power From the Sun or they can be original ideas. The rays will be glued onto the yellow circle construction paper. A student self-evaluation form for this activity is provided with the assessments.

      Day 7

      Students will be given the following prompt:
      One night you went camping in a tent with your family in the forest. It was fall and the nights were starting to get very cold. On the night your family went camping the moon was hidden behind clouds and the forest was pitch black. You must decide on only one source of light and heat to help you make it through the night. Draw the source you would choose to use. Then write at least one sentence explaining to me why you chose the item you did.

      Depending on ability level of your students, the prompt will need to be written on paper or read aloud to them. See the scoring guide for constructed response: student prompt located in assessments for more details.

      Technical Component

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      For additional information contact :
      Stacey Sparks
      Brookfield Elem.
      Brookfield R-III
      (660) 258-2241

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