Ministry of Education, Guyana

Explore Light and Sound With Your Four Year Old

Young children are very curious about the sights and sounds in the world around them and interested in exploring them. Although they can’t touch, smell or taste light and sound, children can still investigate their properties.

Young children experience the properties of light when they feel the warmth of the sun on their skin and when they see the colors, shadows, reflections and rainbows that are created as light interacts with the the world around them. They experience the properties of sound when they hear it with their ears and feel its vibrations. Four-year-olds enjoy playing with sound and associate sounds with their sources. They enjoy mixing colors and begin to anticipate what will happen when they mix certain colors together. They like experimenting with shadows and changing their shapes and sizes. While four-year-olds may be drawn to noisy toys with bright flashing colors, there are lots of other ways you can support your child’s learning. As you explore light and sound with your child, talk with them about their experiences. Introduce words — like vivid, clear, dull and dim — that help them express what they are doing, noticing and thinking about. Sometimes loud sounds, dark spaces and shadows can make four-year-olds nervous. Your support will help them explore more confidently. Individual children will be interested in exploring different things, so remember to follow your child’s lead!

Explore Light and Sound With Your Child

Look for Colors in Nature
When you are out and about with your child, help him notice the variety of colors in nature. Draw his attention to the different shades of green in a single plant or leaf and the different shades of pink or purple in a flower. How do colors outdoors look on bright sunny days? How do they look on dark cloudy days? Invite your child to draw a sunny day or cloudy day picture. What colors will he use to show how colors look brighter or darker on different days?

Look for Reflections Outdoors
When you are out and about with your child, look for your reflections on different surfaces. Can we see ourselves in mirrors, brick buildings, elevator doors, store windows or in puddles? Talk about where you see reflections and what they look like. Which reflections are easier or harder to see? Why do you think so? Try looking for your reflections on different surfaces in your home. Can you see your reflections on the refrigerator, wall, window or toaster? What about the window?

Make Shapes With Your Shadows
When you and your child are outdoors relaxing on a sunny day, play with your shadows! Encourage your child to notice how your shadows look when you move around in different ways. How do our shadows look when we jump up and down, spin around or stand in front of/behind each other? Make shadow shapes together. Can we hold hands and make a circle/a square/a heart with our shadows? Can we make number and letter shapes? What other shapes can we make? Draw your shadows. How are your shadows similar to you? How are they different?

Investigate Shadows with Flashlights
Collect two flashlights and a variety of objects including small toys, kitchen tools and other familiar household items of different shapes. Dim the lights and start exploring! Which objects make shadows? What happens to the shadows when you move the flashlight closer and farther away? What about when you point the flashlight at different sides of the object? Share your ideas about how and why the shadows change. Can you make the shadows “dance” by moving the light quickly back and forth or in circles?

Mix Colors with Paints
Investigate mixing colors with your child using tempera paints and brushes from a department or craft store. Put dabs of two or three colors — red, yellow and/or blue — in the corners of a large piece of white paper,— the larger the better,— and investigate mixing colors with your child. Make predictions about what will happen as you mix red with yellow or blue. Do you think it will make orange or purple? Investigate adding different amounts of each color. What happens when you put more yellow? What about more blue? Check out the interactive book about colors, Mix It Up by Herve Tullet.

View Your Reflections in the Mirror
Find a large mirror at home or in a department store and spend a few minutes investigating your reflections. Who do you see in the mirror? What parts of our bodies can we see? Encourage your child to move back and forth and side to side in front of the mirror. How do our reflections change? How do they stay the same? How can we make our reflections bigger or smaller? How can we make them disappear? Play with a small mirror and a flashlight in a darkened room. What happens when we shine the light onto the mirror? Can we make the light go onto the ceiling?

Listen to Music and Feel the Vibrations
When you invite your child to listen to music, she experiences how sounds can be created and combined. She can also hear loud and soft and high and low sounds and feel their vibrations. Play your family’s favorite music and listen to it, sing along or dance to it together. How does your body want to move to that music? Invite her to put her hands on the speaker — and on her throat as she sings — to feel the vibrations. How does it feel? Ask other family members to share their favorite types of music with you and your child. How does this music sound and feel different?

Talking and Singing Through Tubes
You can help your child explore sound by gathering some toilet paper, paper towel and wrapping paper tubes. Use the tubes to listen to the sounds around you. What do you hear? Try talking and singing through the tubes. Can we make loud and soft sounds? High and low sounds? Put a piece of paper over the end of the tube. What happens to the paper when we talk or sing through the tube? Try exploring sound with plastic corrugated tubes — they can be found at hardware or home goods stores in the plumbing department.

Hunt for the Source of that Sound!
When you are out and about with your child, you can help her think about where sounds come from — the sources of different sounds. Draw her attention to far-off sounds like sounds made by emergency vehicles, lawnmowers, trains, planes or birds. Can we figure out what’s making that sound? Talk about how loud or soft the sound is and what direction it’s coming from. Do you think the fire truck is close or far away? Why do you think so? Talk about how the sound changes. Do you think it’s coming closer? How can you tell?

Read About Light
Your child may enjoy reading and talking about nonfiction and fiction books about light, and you can find these in the children’s section of your local library. Look for Shadows and Reflections by Tana Hoban and compare the images in the book to your own observations of shadows and reflections. Explore the world of night with the child in the interactive book Flashlight by Lizi Boyd. Or check out Bear Shadow by Frank Asch, a story about a bear who tries to run away from his shadow.


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