Thursday, May 15, 2014

Transparent, Translucent, & Opaque

I did a lesson with my first graders about the difference between transparent items, translucent items, and opaque items. Those terms are pretty difficult for them, although I think this picture definitely helped:

I have NO clue where I found this picture! If you know, please tell me so I can give credit where credit is due!)

By the end of the class, some of my students with really good memories were using the correct terminology, while the rest were still referring to that picture. But the goal wasn't for them to memorize the vocabulary -- it was for them to see how light reacts to different objects -- so I was okay with it. :)

What You Need For Each Group:
-mirror (Mine were rectangular, but these would work, too!)
-baggie (I used sandwich-sized)
-plastic spoon
-cardboard (cut into a small square)
-plain copy paper (cut into a small square)
-cardstock (I used hot pink so I could reference "the hot pink paper" as cardstock when kids couldn't tell the difference between that and other materials in their basket)
-red solo cup I used these, which are actually shot glasses -- whoops. haha. -- but they just look like tiny red solo cups, so my kids don't have to know about the shot part ;) )
-colored, translucent cup (or fabric) (I used these, which I actually found at Walmart. But I'm thinking you could also use colored Seran Wrap or one of that colored overlay paper we used to use for kids who needed help staying on the correct line while reading.)
-wax paper
-tissue (either the kind you use to blow your nose with or tissue paper)

As the teacher, you need a copy of the picture above and a clear cup filled with water.

We watched the Brainpop, Jr. video about light, which entertains, engages, and teaches sometimes more than I can! My kids LOVE Brainpop, so I try to work it in whenever I can. Annie and Moby actually talk about transparent, translucent, and opaque objects (although briefly) in the video, so as soon as the video is over, I jump to a slide of the picture above. We talk about how windows can fit into all 3 categories, depending on what is covering them. I hold up the cup of water, and we do that one together as a demo so that students know where to mark answers in their recording sheet.

Then I give everyone the materials and let them work at their own pace. Groups who finish early wait toward the front of the room and play I Spy after they return all their materials.

We typically had about 20-30 minutes left of our hour-long class after the flashlight activity (which kids LOVED doing -- the colors they could make when they shined their flashlight through an object + the joy of working in the dark = SUCH  a fun leson in their eyes!), we talked about optical illusions. I explained thaat light can be a little tricky sometimes, and we looked at a few examples of  optical illusions. The kids thought that was super-cool, so when I told them they were going to make their own with crayons, tthey were pumped. I actually used an DIY optical illusion of a wacky-colored American flag from an old AIMS book, but I'm thinking you could probably get some results if you Googled it to find your own. :)

Bonus perk to this activity: it's super-easy to store and doesn't take up a lot of space. I'm really into storing all the contents of a lesson together so that I can easily pull it out of the cabinet next time and just go with it. For this activity, I just put all the group's items into the baggie and stuffed it all inside an old, plastic coffee container. {If you don't use those for storage in your classroom, you SHOULD! They don't match with the color scheme in my room, but they're in cabinets, so I don't care. They hold so much and stack well!}


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