One of the Virginia Science Standards of Learning (SOLs) is all about electricity. Some of the concepts students will learn as part of these electricity lessons include—

  • conductors and insulators
  • circuits
  • static electricity
  • electrical energy transformations
  • electromagnets

Electricity is a fun science SOL to teach. It’s one of the most hands-on science units and students can easily relate what they are learning to everyday life.

Let’s explore ways to supercharge your electricity lessons with hands-on learning and games!

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All of the science experiments listed in this blog post are included in my Electricity Lesson Plans. The lesson plans include detailed instructions for teaching each lesson, experiments, worksheets, digital activities, assessments, and word wall cards. You can find these Electricity Lesson Plans HERE.

Conductors and Insulators Lesson

An energy stick should be a go-to item in every teacher’s electricity lessons.

An energy stick is a simple toy that lights up and/or makes noise when conductors are touching each of its ends. Some ways you can use an energy stick to experiment with conductors and insulators—

  • Start with just two students holding the energy stick between them. Keep adding more students (one at a time) to show that the energy stick will still light up no matter how many humans are connected because we are all conductors.
  • When holding the energy stick between two or more students, discuss what happens if students do not touch their other hands to form a circle. Lead students to understand that by linking hands in a circle, they are creating a closed circuit. The energy sticks will not light up if there is a break in the circle of hands because that creates an open circuit.
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This conductors and insulators experiment is included in my Electricity Unit. You can find the unit HERE.

Electric Circuit Lesson

Building simple circuits is the best part of electricity lessons!

There are several ways to build a simple circuit in the classroom, depending on the resources available to you. One of the most affordable ways I have found to create simple circuits uses a string of Christmas lights and AA batteries (or any larger-size battery).

Before teaching the lesson, cut lights from a strand of Christmas lights, leaving about an inch of wire on each side of the light. It is best to use copper wire strippers to remove the coating from the wire. Students touch the ends of the wire to a battery to form a simple circuit.

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This circuits worksheet is included in my Electricity Unit. You can find the unit HERE.

While this is the most affordable option for creating simple circuits, it can be time-consuming to prep the Christmas lights. In my detailed Electricity Lessons, I have also described other ways to create simple circuits that do not require any prep work but use more expensive batteries.

Static Electricity Lesson

There are lots of ways to explore static electricity in the classroom. One of my favorite static electricity activities uses a dry, empty water bottle and pieces of tissue paper. The pieces of tissue paper should have a length and a width that is about ¼ inch.

Students will put 20-30 pieces of tissue paper in the water bottle and seal it. Then, they will quickly rub the bottle against their hair or carpet for at least one minute to create static electricity.

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These static electricity centers are included in my Electricity Unit. You can find the unit HERE.

Magnetism Lesson

You will likely have students build an electromagnet as part of your electricity lessons. After the electromagnets are built, experiment with factors that may affect the strength of the electromagnet. For example, have students increase or decrease the number of coils one at a time to see what happens.

electromagnet-lesson
This electromagnet experiment is included in my Electricity Unit. You can find the unit HERE.

Electricity Review Games and Activities

Every science unit should end with fun review games to help students practice what they have learned. I have listed the review activities I use with my electricity lessons below.

Jeopardy Game

Students love using my Electricity Jeopardy Game at the end of the unit and before Virginia SOL testing. You can have students play independently or in teams.

The Jeopardy game features five categories, totaling 25 questions. The presentation is coded so that students can easily navigate between the category board, questions, and answers. They can also type points into a scoreboard, even when in presentation mode. My Electricity Jeopardy Game comes with two versions—one for PowerPoint and one for Google Slides.

The following video is a short tutorial that shows how my science Jeopardy games work.

Escape Room

The electricity SOL requires students to define and explain several concepts. I have students explore important terms and concepts with an escape room.

In my Electricity Escape Room, students find themselves trapped! The only way to escape is for students to successfully complete six challenges that require them to use critical thinking skills as they review concepts related to electricity and electromagnets.

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Some of the activities include:

  • decoding terms related to electricity
  • identifying examples of conductors and insulators and creating a code
  • reading a passage and decoding information about electrical energy transformations
  • identifying examples of open circuits and closed circuits and creating a code
  • decoding information about electromagnets
  • identifying true statements about circuits and electricity
  • solving math problems to create a code
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Escape rooms are a fun way to get students up and moving. They are also an easy way to integrate math and ELA skills into your science instruction. You can learn more about this Electricity Escape Room HERE.

Task Cards

What teacher doesn’t love task cards!? They require almost no prep work, students enjoy using them, and there are lots of different games you can play with them. Even though I use task cards a lot throughout the school year, I rarely have students get bored with them. That is because I switch up the games and activities we use with task cards all the time.

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One of my favorite activities is to use task cards with a classic board game. For example, students can play a regular game of Chutes and Ladders. But, to take their turn, they must correctly answer a question on a task card. If they answer the task card question incorrectly, they lose that turn.

You can learn more task card games and activities in THIS blog post.

Electricity Test Prep

After you have finished playing review games at the conclusion of your electricity lessons, remember to send home a study guide so that students can continue reviewing on their own.

My Electricity and Magnets Study Guide resource features a two-page study guide. The student guide defines terms, provides visual aids, and explains important concepts related to the electricity SOL. It also comes with two pages of review questions.

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Often, I hear parents don’t help their students study at home because they don’t understand the science concepts. My study guide breaks the standard down into small, easy-to-understand pieces and provides a list of comprehension questions with answers that parents can ask.

Conclusion

If want to make your electricity lessons more “electrifying” but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right corner of the Internet!

The hands-on nature of the electricity SOL makes science fun for students and easy for them to relate to everyday life.

Looking for more about the experiments or games referenced in this blog post? You can find more information in the following resources:

Now, let’s light up your classroom with fun electricity lessons!

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