Teaching young children about the electrical circuit is a rewarding and important activity. Teaching them well will allow them to have a good knowledge base from which to progress with their scientific understanding. Using simple analogies, and by reinforcing the basics, you will be able to help children learn about the simple electrical circuit, and give them a sound theoretical grounding. Using this, they will be able to progress with their studies and deal later with more complex scientific concepts.
Use analogies that the child will understand. For example, explain that electricity is like a train on a train track, and that it requires the circuit to be continuous for the train to go all the way around. If the track/circuit is broken at any point, the train can't continue, and the circuit won't work. Using analogies will help children understand the basics of electricity.
Explain that there must be a complete circuit. Many children will initially think that pressing a battery onto a light bulb will cause it to light. Explain to them that there must be a flow, meaning that both ends of the battery must be connected for the electrons to flow. Using the train analogy, explain that one train has to leave the station before the next one arrives.
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Use interactive games to help children engage with electrical circuits. The Woodland wesbite has links to many different interactive resources you can work through as a class, or in small groups. Learning through playing will help teach children how to work with electricity, and will make them more familiar with the concepts involved.
Ensure that the child has the basic theory of electricity understood before progressing onto more complex devices, such as switches and diodes. Building a strong foundation will help children become comfortable with more advanced scientific concepts.
Explain the safety aspects of electricity before you start. Drill this into the students, as a curious child may unsafely investigate dangerous aspects of electricity before knowing the risks.