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Let there be light



Suitable for children: 
Skills this activity improves: 
Street lit up by small coloured lights

Many communities light up the night sky by holding a festival of lights.

Your community might celebrate the festival of light by stringing fairy lights through trees, illuminating buildings with different coloured lights or turning the lights on and off in time to music. Sometimes it starts with all the lights in the community being switched off and then turned back on after a countdown to begin the festival.

Talk to your child about when the festival is held and how long it will go for. Many communities celebrate the festival of light around the same time every year when there is a full moon in the sky. Many countries hold their festival during the winter months.

Materials you will need

  • Your eyes
  • A program of events

Why does this matter?

As you talk to your child and involve them in preparing for a celebration they are learning about planning and measurement. They are developing the language they need to talk about what they are doing.

Explore with your child when the event might happen or what tasks can be done at the same time. As you do this your child will be beginning to sort and group activities. They will be learning how to order when things happen based on time.

Hearing and listening to instructions and language that include quantity, number and measurement helps your child to learn to follow directions. It will help them develop the language they need to ask questions if they don’t know what to do.

What does this lead to?

As your child helps to organise a celebration they are exploring measurement and the different directions or language we use to describe measurement. They are exploring measurement concepts of:

  • number - How many lanterns will we light? How many days till the full moon?
  • size - What size light do you need to light a tree compared to a building?
  • quantity - How many days does the festival go for?
  • time - When is the lantern parade? What day, time or month will the festival be?
  • length – How far does the beam of light spread up the tree?

Language to use

  • Calendar, day, time, month, year
  • Night-time, day time, twilight, evening
  • Start, end, beginning
  • Light, dark, coloured
  • Illuminate, shine, twinkle, strobe
  • Festival, celebration, event, community function, culture

Questions to use

  • Can you see the light from a torch during the day?
  • Are all lights the same colour?
  • How many lights does it take to light a tree?
  • Can the lights inside a building illuminate the outside?

Useful tips

  1. You might also like to take a look at the activities Star light, star bright and Moon Lantern Festival.
  2. Google how different cultures and communities celebrate festivals of light.
  3. Remember to talk to your child in your home language.

More ideas

  1. Google the Diwali festival - the oldest festival in the world.
  2. Have your own festival of light in the backyard. Hang lanterns from the trees and shine torches into the night sky.
  3. Make lanterns to float down the river or out to sea.

Variation by age

Three to five year olds

  • Try making lantern boats from different size leaves.
  • Mark off the days till the opening of the festival on the calendar.
  • Count how many different ways you can make a light.
  • Make shadows using a torch.

Questions to ask

  • Will a small leaf hold a candle?
  • Will a leaf boat float if it has holes in the bottom?
  • Does all light cast shadows?
  • Why does the fridge have a light?

Language to use

  • Light, cast, shadow
  • Light, heavy
  • Float, sink
  • Flow, swirl
  • Big, small, medium, large