Today I’m sharing one of our favorite science activities for kids- exploring reflections in mirrors! This is super easy to setup and children are always so intrigued with their discoveries!
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Science Experiments for Kids: Reflections in Mirrors
I am a huge fan of science experiments for kids! (We have tons of fun science experiments for kids on Buggy and Buddy!) I love how science explorations build on the natural curiosity children have about the world around them. Often these science activities lead to many more questions and discoveries. That’s exactly what happened when Lucy began exploring reflections in mirrors! (This post contains affiliate links.)
Materials for Mirror Reflection Science
- At least 2 mirrors (Preferably one on a wall and one you can hold)
- Some words and letters to study in the mirror
- Pencil and paper
Procedure for Mirror Reflection Science
1. Start by exploring what happens with two mirrors facing each other.
- We had one mirror propped up against the wall, and Lucy held the other mirror in front of her. She was so excited, “Look at all my reflections! Why’s it doing that?! I just keep seeing myself over and over!”
- We talked about why we thought that might be happening. (Remember, my goal is promote critical thinking and predictions, not necessarily to get the correct answer.) Lucy said her prediction was that her reflection kept bouncing back and forth. (In case you’re wondering: You see yourself in a mirror because light bounces off you, hits the mirror, and then reflects back into your eyes. When you add another mirror into the equation, light bounces off one mirror and hits another mirror so you’re seeing a reflection of a reflection. Because the two mirrors are facing each other, you’re getting a reflection of a reflection of a reflection etc.)
2. Hold up some letters or words in front of one mirror and see what happens. I had thought playing with the two mirrors would be the extent of Lucy’s mirror exploration. But, at one point during the experiment, she noticed some letters in one of the mirrors, “Why are those letters backwards?” That led to a whole other set of discoveries and predictions!
Let your child build off their own discoveries. I’m going to outline below where Lucy’s questions led her. You’re child’s path of discovery may be very different!
- Lucy decided to write the word ‘love’ on a piece of paper and hold it in front of the mirror to see what happened. “It’s backwards! I wonder what will happen if I write ‘love’ backwards on my paper?
- Lucy got a new piece of paper and reversed the letters, writing “e-v-o-l”. “They’re still backwards! But, not all of them. Look at the ‘o’!” (I love how she thought maybe the whole word was reversed rather than the letters being flipped!)
- She then decided to write out the whole alphabet to see how every letter looked in the mirror. As she was doing this, she’d jot down letters on a separate piece of paper that looked the same in the reflection.
- I asked her if she remembered when we learned about symmetry during our previous nature walk? Maybe symmetry has something to do with this? I provided her with a little mirror we had used in a previous investigation on symmetry. She tested out all the letter to see what she could discover!
3. Leave out the materials for further investigation. Lucy is still very interested in exploring reflections in mirrors. (She told me she’s still coming up with other mirror experiments!) I’ve left the mirrors out for her to access easily so she can use them at any time. I may add some wooden letters or printed words nearby soon to help inspire more discoveries.
Some Materials for Mirror Exploration
Want to Go Even Further?
Related activities to extend the learning for various ages.
- Go on a family walk outdoors to look for symmetry in nature.
- Explore mirrors with paint: Finger paint and Mirrors, Painting a Bathroom Mirror, Painting the Night
- Explore mirrors with various materials: Water, Mirrors, and Reflections, Invitation to Play: Create a Forest , Pompoms and Mirror
- Record all your discoveries in a science journal.
- Experiment with reflections in other surfaces like a spoon.
- Make a periscope: The Exploratorium and PBS Kids have some tutorials.
- Related children’s books: I See Me!, Light: Shadows, Mirrors, and Rainbows, Reflections