Light Unit for 1st Grade

I’m not gonna lie, when those Next Gen Science Standards came out and had light waves and such for first grade, my stomach turned in knots a little. Ok, a lot

Because physics is not my strong suit.  Like, for reals.

And I may have let out a sigh of relief that I’m on a short term Mommy break from the classroom.

But then, I dug my heals in and came across some great books on light, made some connections to things I was already teaching in first grade, and this Light unit, along with this list of awesome trade books, was born!

{This post contains affiliate links which means that I get a tiny bit of pocket change from each purchase to feed my chocolate addiction! :)}

All of my integrated units and Next Gen Science Units come with big ideas and essential questions.  I just don’t know how to teach without guiding truths and questions–it keeps me on track, focused on the bigger picture and helps me make literacy and math connections more easily!  Here are the essential questions for this unit and the books I used as literacy connections!

Week 1: Why Do We Need Light?

During this first week, we are reading about what light is, light sources and charting our learning.  And all of that research leads us to our Pinhole Box STEM connection (read about that HERE) to learn why we need light.  Here are the books we use for this first week… Click on the covers to


Week 2: How Do Materials Affect Light?

This second week is jam packed full of academic vocabulary like opaque, translucent, refract, reflect, and more!  And the best and most engaging way to learn new concepts is through science labs.  You’ll find a ton of labs in week 2 that I’ll blog about later!  But I love how much literacy can be pulled in even when science labs are the primary focus.  Click the covers to find the books!


Week 3: How Can We Use Light?

The first part of week 3, we learn some real life applications for using light.  We study fireflies (and make a firefly which I’ve blogged about before!), lighthouses, as well as make our own connections for how we use light!  There are great fictional connections this week as well!


Week 3: What Color Is Light?

Yes, I know this is the second week 3… That’s just because there are 2 essential questions in the same week!

The second half of week 3, we learn about the science of color with my favorite man Bill Nye and then do one of my favorite science experiments I’ve blogged about before: Catching Rainbows!

Make sure you follow my blog because I’ll be blogging about some of our favorite light STEM challenges and science labs in the next couple of weeks!

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