Set up this Christmas Lights Science display in your science center and let kids explore and discover how to turn on the Christmas lights. This is a simple activity for Preschool and Pre-K kids that you can set up in the Science Center.
- String of Christmas lights
- Scissors or wire cutters (scissors work fine)
- 9V Batteries
The Christmas lights you use don’t have to be new ones, and you can use cheap dollar store lights and batteries to save money. Also, consider asking parents to donate batteries for this project.
Update: Readers have found that LED lights do not work. Use cheap, non-LED lights.
How to Prepare the Activity:
Take the string of Christmas lights, and cut the green wire so that you have just two lights connected (see photo).
Then, cut just a little of the plastic wire casing off so that the wires are exposed. To do that, just cut part of the way into the wire so that you’re only cutting the plastic, but not the wires, and pull off the plastic. You only need to cut about 1 cm of the plastic or less.
Discard the cord’s plug. When the lights are used with the battery, there’s not enough electricity for electrical shock. Supervise children while using the lights. If the lights are turned on for a while, they can heat up, although (to me) they weren’t burning hot. I believe this to be a safe activity and have used it in the classroom with 4-year-olds, however you assume all risks.
You can cut just one Christmas light by itself, however, one light tends to get hot. It’s better to have two on each string, and although they warm up, mine didn’t get hot (test this out with your own lights before giving them to children). You can also try more than two lights, but the brightness of the lights gets very weak.
Here’s What to Do:
Set up your science table with the cut Christmas lights and 9V batteries. Post a sign somewhere in the center that says, “Can you turn on the Christmas lights?” to add print to the environment. Read the sign to the children and explain that they will use the batteries and lights to figure out how to make them turn on.
Initially, don’t show the children how to use the materials to make the lights work — let the kids explore and figure it out on their own. If your kids have difficulty and lose interest, you can show them how to touch the wires to the battery. One wire must touch one battery prong and the other wire must touch the other prong (see photo).
Special thanks to my friend, Kimber, for this awesome idea! 😉