lemonade learning Light & Sound

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Below are a variety of cross-curricular light and sound activities. These would make a great end-of-unit classroom party, or you can use them as fits the specific needs of your class or group.



For each student you will need:

  • a pencil
  • air dry clay, about a small fist-sized amount, or regular clay if you have access to a kiln
  • a toothpick
  • acrylic paint
  • a paintbrush


Form the clay into a basic bowl shape, about 5-6 cm long, and about 1 cm thick. Leave a small hole in the top. Blow across the top (a light breath is sufficient) and adjust the hole until a breath across the top produces sound. Form a mouthpiece by wrapping clay around a pencil. Pull the tube off of the pencil. It will sit along the top of the hole where you blew to make your sound. Score the tube and the top of the bowl and attach using some slip (watered down clay). Use a toothpick to scratch on a pattern or a design. If you wish, you may experiment with additional pitches by adding a few finger holes. Let dry completely for a few days and paint with acrylic paints.


Cup & String Phones


For each pair of students you will need:

  • two cups (experiment with paper, plastic & styrofoam)
  • 3 or more metres string (again, experiment with different types of string)
  • pointed scissors


Use the scissors to pierce a hole in the centre of the bottom of each cup. Tie a knot in one end of the string, then thread the unknotted end through the inside of one cup, and through the hole. Continue threading the string through the bottom of the second cup, then tie a knot in the loose end. Gently pull the cups apart until the string is taut. Your phone is ready to use.
One person talks into their cup while the other holds their cup to their ear. Experiment with different materials to see which best carries and amplifies the sound waves. <br>How long can you make your string and still hear each other?




For each student you will need:

  • Three glass microscope slides
  • about 30 cm of black electrical tape
  • a corner cut from a small lunch or freezer bag
  • a few tiny coloured glass beads
  • clear sticky tape, about 3 cm


Use the electrical tape to attach the long sides of the slides to each other forming a triangular prism with open ends. Fill the corner of the bag with a few glass beads, tape it shut and then tape the bag to one end of the prism. Look through the open end towards a light as you rotate the prism.

* You may wish to have the students do these activities ahead of the party. 


homemade periscope


For each student you will need:

  • a cardboard paper towel tube(or a well-washed cardboard chip tube, or 2 1-litre milk or juice cartons with the tops cut off)
  • two mirrors, slightly larger than the tube diameter
  • scissors
  • masking tape
  • optional: paper & glue and/or paints to decorate the tube


Cut two parallel 45 degree slots in the tube, one near the bottom and one near the top (you can also just cut off the top and bottom at a 45 degree angle and then tape the mirrors to the top and bottom). These slots will be where the mirrors sit.
Cut an opening in the tube near the top just below where to top edge of the mirror will be, and another near the bottom, on the opposite side of the tube just above where the bottom edge of the bottom mirror will sit.
Slide the mirrors into place, being sure that the reflecting sides face each other. Use masking tape to keep them there. Decorate the tubes as desired.



Colour is an important clue when we form expectations of our food. Try colouring foods in unusual ways to see how it affects the students' expectations. Try collecting some unusual flavours of gourmet jelly beans and give each student a few to try. Have them first record the colour and what flavour they expect each one to be, then record what they believe it really was. Try serving colourless flavoured drinks as well.

Rice Crispies are one food that is famous for the sound it makes. What other "noisy" foods can the students think of? Have them bring in a few to share.


Talent Show

  • Music video: students use coloured lights and home-made instruments to put together a performance for their peers
  • Shadow plays: students use shadow puppets to tell a story
  • radio play (good for shy students): students use a cassette recorder to put together a radio play complete with sound effects
  • light and sound magic show: using the physics of light and sound, students put together a magic show based on these principles
  • Students use sound effects only (no words) to act out a popular or traditional story


Gym Game 1:  Assign each wall in the room a colour (orange, yellow. green, red). Gym mats on the floor are blue, for purple the kids have to join with a partner and sit back to back, and for indigo they must stand and wave their hands above their heads (you can vary the actions as you please). The last person to get to each place/action as a colour is called is “out” and joins the callers.

Gym Game 2: Parachute play: be sure to include favourites such as "cat and mouse" and "in the tent". Parachute games and rules can be found at this link.

Gym Game 3: Flashlight tag: be sure to remind the students to keep their lights aimed low and away from each other's eyes.

Gym Game 4: Wave skipping: divide students into groups of four, with each group given a long skipping rope. "Enders" make waves with the rope by bending and wiggling in a steady pattern it close to the floor. The other students must try and predict the wave pattern as they jump over the rope. Students take turns as enders and jumpers. For a greater challenge, give the enders two ropes to use at different frequencies or modulations.

Outdoor Game: Shadow tag

Classroom Game: Colour bingo: Have students research unusual colour names and use these to make bingo cards. The caller then uses the basic colours and students can colour in each word in that colour family. For example, if red is called, chartreuse may be coloured in.

Other Classroom Activities

Chromatography: art using water-based markers, natural food colours and coffee filters. Wet the filters first, then add dots and lines of the different media to the wet filter. You can also start by using markers and food colours on a dry filter and drip water onto the colour. What colours are used to make black? Brown? What happens when you use a different brand of marker? Try this with coloured candy (M&M's, Smarties or Skittles). Put a candy in a small bowl, add a few spoonfuls of water and stir. Dip one end of a coffee filter strip into the bowl and watch the colours travel up the strip and separate.

Cabbage water indicator: with red cabbage water you can create different colours by adding different strengths of acids and bases. This would be a good outdoor activity due to mess potential.

To make the cabbage water indicator: chop up a red (purple) cabbage. Cover with water and boil until the cabbage itself loses its colour and becomes greyish. Pour off coloured water and refrigerate or freeze for up to one month. Set cabbage aside for use in your favourite soup or casserole.When it is time to experiment, use clean clear plastic egg trays or ice cube trays, small spoons and eye droppers to add test ingredients to the cabbage water indicator.

Some favourite acids and bases to use for testing: lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda, laundry detergent (liquid and/or powdered), dish soap, milk, borax, ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Also see the concoctions page for more presentation ideas.

Sun Bleaching: Demonstrate the power of the sun to fade coloured construction paper by making silhouettes.

Cut out various shapes from heavy paper. Place these on a dark coloured sheet of construction paper. If you cannot lay them flat, use paper clips to hold the shape in place. Keep these in a spot that receives a great deal of direct sunlight and do not disturb them for a week or longer. When you check on them after this time, the place that was covered by the heavy paper will appear darker than the surrounding paper.

Perfect Pitch: Have students experiment with using a tuning fork to match different pitches. Use a steel guitar string and clamps to experiment with changing pitch along a string.

Additional Activities:

  • Use waxed paper with a comb to make a harmonica and experiment with vibrations.

  • How does a triangle sound when allowed to vibrate? When held tightly?

  • Try watching sound waves by filling a shallow container with water, then, without blowing on it, hum nearby. What happens? Try adding a sound of a different pitch. How does the surface of the water change with the new sound?

  • Experiment with black (ultra violet) light: what makes things glow under black light? Why do see it differently than daylight or "regular" light? Some things remain invisible until viewed under black light. How is this used in our daily lives (currency, cheque security, some forms of personal identification, etc.). Try viewing various items under black light, such as the ones listed here.

More Science Activities:

Science Index
Edible Science Activities
Energy-Related Science Activities
Science of Extreme Cold
Kid Concoction Recipes
More Advanced Science Activities
Strange Science
Science Fair Project Guide