2. Using games and pictures to explore reflection

Reflection plays a large role in how we see or perceive light and colour. In fact, without reflection, we would see nothing. (See Resource 3: Information on light for more about the properties and behaviour of light).

In this part, we look at ways you can help your pupils explore what happens when light is reflected off different surfaces. Your aim should not be to provide them with the ‘right’ answers, but to give them a range of experiences that make them thoughtful and interested in this topic. In Activity 2, you encourage your pupils to observe carefully examples of reflection around them. Case Study 2 shows how one teacher’s work on reflection encouraged some pupils to become better artists.

Case Study 2: Thinking about the reflection of light

Mrs Moonga teaches a combined primary class. She had carefully collected and mounted on card good pictures from old magazines for language, literacy and communication work.

When she read the introduction to part one of this section, she realised she could use her pictures again for science. She could see so many different sorts of reflections in the photographs (not only shadows and shade). There was light glistening on the water, reflections in glass windows, the sparkle of shiny objects, as well as the glow on the skin of an apple. She realised that even the glint in someone’s eye is in fact a reflection.

First, Mrs Moonga explained to her class some of the facts she knew about light and reflection (see Resource 3).

Next, she gave them the pictures to look at and she was surprised at just how much detail they were able to notice. They were much more aware about the effects of light on different surfaces. She was totally amazed when some of the children, more interested than others in drawing, began to experiment with shading and drawing in the reflections on round objects so that their drawings became more realistic.

Activity 2: Investigating mirrors –reflections and reversals

Start with this game. In pairs, children take turns to act as the mirror image of the other. One pupil carefully leads, and the other copies (mirrors) the slow deliberate movements. Let pupils do this for a few minutes.

Discuss the experience. Do they realise that if the leader winks with the left eye, then the follower (‘mirror image’) winks with the right?

Reversals in reflections

Now use lipstick or eyeliner to mark the cheeks and hands of some pupils. Write ‘L’ or ‘R’ in the palm of each hand and the letters ‘AB’ on the right cheek and ‘OB’ on the left. Let them observe what they find when they look at themselves in real mirrors. Discuss their observations.

(More activities to stimulate speculation and investigation are outlined in Resource 4: Additional reflection activities ).

1. Exploring Shadows

3. Using Science to solve a problem