8 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Electricity
Written by Sommer Poquette
One Sunday afternoon, I heard giggles coming from the living room, then loud yelps. Curious as to what was going on, I peeked around the corner and saw my two children shuffling stocking feet across the carpet and shocking one another. It was humorous to watch, and it gave me an idea: Why not teach the kids about why this was happening? I interrupted their fun to ask if they knew about static electricity, or why their hair sometimes sticks up after they take their winter hats off. My son, who loves to understand how everything works, was eager to learn—after he gave me one last quick shock.
If your children are like mine and have an interest in science, they will love these fun, educational activities, from picking up popcorn with static electricity to projects that explain how circuit breakers work in your home.
- Science Bob – Roll a Can with Static Electricity
Rev up those soda cans, because it’s time to race! Your kids can use the power of static electricity to roll an empty soda can across the floor. Keep them interested past the science lesson by laying down some masking tape to create a finish line and let them race each other. I love this activity because it’s simple, fun and engaging for children of all ages.
- Education.com – Separate Salt and Pepper with Static Electricity
All you need is a plastic spoon and some salt and pepper to demonstrate the “magic” of static electricity. While conducting the experiment, be sure explain to how negative and positive charges work, and why the pepper particles are attracted to the spoon.
- Highlights – Pick Up the Popcorn Game
This is a great game for those rainy days when you’re stuck inside and looking for a way to entertain the kids. Pop some popcorn, watch a movie and then have the kids help you pick up the mess with this fun static electricity-powered game.
- Apartment Therapy – Make Your Own HEXBUG Nano
For older children who are ready to learn more, try this project that teaches the basics of circuits and the flow of electricity. They’ll learn about insulators, conductors and voltage with this DIY version of the popular bug bots. All you need is a small brush, a vibrating motor and a battery!
- Lifehacker – Build a Battery Out of Pennies
Teach your little ones about how a battery operates with this easy DIY tutorial. You’ll need some copper pennies, paper towels, lemon juice, sand paper, tape and an LED. The activity isn’t too tough for kids, and it’s a great way to teach them how a battery works.
- Research Parent – Homemade Wigglebot
This project is perfect for those young learners that love robots! For under $10, you can gather the supplies needed to build your own art-making “wigglebot.” This hands-on project allows you to explain how electricity runs a motor.
- Lemon Lime Adventure – Lego-Inspired Electric Dough
This experiment is intended to teach kids about insulators and conductors. By making “electric” dough, they will learn the basics of electricity circuits. It’s great for any age group—even big kids will have fun with this one!
- Teachers Pay Teachers – Electricity Scavenger Hunt
For just $1, you can download this electricity scavenger hunt worksheet. It’s perfect for teaching your kids about all the different ways electricity is used in your home. Have them hunt down appliances and electronics, then let them determine why and how each one is using electricity.
There are also plenty of other ways you can incorporate an electricity lesson into your day-to-day routine. Try taking your little ones to a home improvement or electronic parts store to let them see circuits and breaker panels up close. If you ever need an electrician to fix up around the house, have your kids ask him or her questions about the project—letting an electrician share what they do is a great learning opportunity! Whatever you choose to do, make sure to teach your children about electrical safety, and never let the younger ones roam around wires or outlets unsupervised. As curious as they may be, it’s much more important to keep the learning process safe!
Sommer Poquette is a mom of two who writes about fun activities to do with your kids. She provides some cool ideas to teach them about circuits, breaker panels and electricity. You can visit www.homedepot.com to see a selection of circuits and breaker panels.