How Do Mirrors Work?

What You Need:

  • Flashlight
  • Small mirrors (unbreakable Plexiglas mirrors, about 3” x 5” and without a frame, are ideal)
  • A dark place (see suggestions below)
  • Index cards
  • Markers

What You Do:

  1. Start with vocabulary! Use the word “reflect” with your child when standing in front of the mirror, passing by a storefront window, or looking in a puddle.
  2. Set up a dark area with a few small mirrors. The dark area could simply be the space underneath a table that is covered with a tablecloth or a box large enough to fit both a child’s head and flashlight.
  3. Give your child a flashlight, and make sure to remind him that he should never shine a flashlight in his own face or anyone else's face.
  4. Now, let him experiment with the flashlight in the dark area. Where does the reflected light bounce? Does it go in a straight line or does it curve? What if you shine the light at an angle?
  5. Play a “making whole” mirror game. Make a set of cards showing partial images (or half of a pair of something). The images can be half a butterfly, half a face, a single shoe, a broken dish, one eye, a partially deflated balloon, and so on.
  6. As your child if he can "make the picture whole" using the mirror! By holding the mirror so one edge lies on the card and perpendicular to it, the image reflected in the mirror completes the picture, making the object whole or the pair complete. Introduce the game by saying, “Oh no, I lost one of my shoes! Can you help me find the other one by using the mirror?”

You child can even make his own "making whole" cards if he'd like. Kids are creative — who knows what he'll come up with now that he's unlocked some knowledge and curiosity about mirrors!

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