Challenge the children to create a sun reflector to catch the sun.
Early Learning Goal links
- Understanding the World ELG: Past and Present
- Understanding the World ELG: People, Culture and Communities
- Understanding the World ELG: The Natural World
- Expressive Arts and Design ELG: Creating with Materials
Download the progression document which includes statements from Development Matters (birth to age five) and the relevant ELGs in full for the sun catcher provocation here.
STEM vocabulary to introduce
Sun, shine, light, travel, reflect, shiny, bright, smooth, metallic, flat, mirrored, waterproof.
What to do
Tell the children that they are going to be meteorologists. You could show them the meteorologist poster. They will be curious about which materials reflect the sun and will observe what happens when the sun shines on different materials.
Put an example sun reflector, photograph or our sun catcher provocation and your materials out for the children to use. This could be in your creative area or on a table by itself.
Explain to the children that light from the sun bounces or reflects off shiny materials into our eyes. You could demonstrate this by shining a torch on a mirror and reflecting this onto a wall, floor or ceiling.
Challenge the children to create a sun reflector with a shiny body and shiny streamers to catch the sun, as well as a string to hang it up.
Questions to ask to support and extend learning
While building and preparing:
- Which materials are the shiniest?
- What do you think makes things shine?
- Do you think one big, smooth shiny surface or lots of little shiny bits are best?
- What will you choose to make your body? How about your tail?
- How will you attach your string?
- Are all of the materials you used waterproof? Will you be able to hang it outside?
- Why does it need to be waterproof?
- Have you made it as shiny as you can?
- Do you think your materials will reflect the sun?
Positioning the sun catcher:
- Where do you think we should hang it so it will reflect the most sun?
- Why do you think we should put it there?
Observing the sun reflectors:
- Which were the best materials for reflecting the sun?
- What would you add to your sun reflector to make it even shinier?
- Does it reflect more sun in the morning or afternoon?
- Does it reflect more sun when it is windy or calm?
- Does it reflect the sun on rainy or dull days or just on sunny days?
Other things to try
Model how to make tin foil spirals by rolling up foil and then wrapping it around your hand.
Other things to try
Remember to refer to the children as meteorologists and praise them for using the attributes. You could say things like:
“Well done, you have been curious about objects that reflect the sun…”
“You have been like a meteorologist and observed which materials reflect the sun the best…”
The science of sun catching
We have put together some useful information about the science of sun catching to accompany this activity. Don’t worry this is for your information only and to help you answer any questions children may have. We don’t expect you to explain this to the children in your setting!
Why are some materials shiny?
Light comes from a source such as the sun or a light bulb and travels in a straight line. When light hits an object, it bounces off it or is reflected and enters our eyes. This is how we see. Some materials are better at reflecting light that others, such as mirrors or metallic materials. It is the reflection of light that makes them look shiny.
What you’ll need
- Example sun catcher, photograph or our sun catcher provocation
- Something shiny and waterproof to make the main body of the sun reflector such as a foil container or a CD
- Shiny, waterproof materials such as foil, glitter, tinsel, washed yoghurt lids, sweet wrappers or sequin waste…
- The meteorologist poster
10 minutes or so.Meteorologist poster