Electricity UnitConductors and Insulators

Teacher of the Lesson: Kelly Pelak
Grade Level: 5
Estimated Time: 40 minutes





  1. Before the lesson begins, prepare a zip-lock bag containing the above items for each group of students. Establish groups of 2-3 students ahead of time. Place the bags on the back table.
  2. Gather students at their desks, and introduce the lesson to them. Review the lesson from the previous day, and explain that this lesson will be very similar. In their groups, students will be setting up simple circuits using the batteries, wires, tape, and bulbs. Review what a simple circuit looks like with the whole class. Draw a diagram of a simple circuit on the board. Explain that today they will be predicting and testing several items in the room to determine if they are insulators or conductors.
  3. Discuss the meaning of these terms with the students. What makes an object an insulator? What will happen if you place an insulator between the bulb and the battery? Will it light? What makes an object a conductor of electricity? etc. Although the students have not had any formal instruction on these terms, they should have a basic understanding of them. Spend roughly five minutes discussing and predicting what will happen in their experiments.
  4. Review expectations of the students and provide an alternative assignment for students who choose not to cooperate during the lesson. Model the exact procedures of the experiment. Remind students to make their predictions before they begin the assignment. It is very important to do this before testing the items. In addition, remind students to use the items provided in their bags, but to also look for other items to test in the room. Remind students to record what they do. Each group will be responsible for ONE data sheet. EACH child will later be responsible for answering questions about the experiments after they are completed.

Sequence of Instruction

  1. Give the students roughly 15-20 minutes to complete the experimental part of the lesson. Walk around the room and give assistance when it is needed. When it appears that most children are finished with their experiments, assign one person from each group to collect the materials. Give students ample time after the experiments are finished, to complete the written part of the assignment.
  2. Discuss the results of the experiment as a whole class. Make a chart on the chalk board of conductors and insulators. Discuss items that were both conductors and insulators.


  1. Give each child a list of discussion questions to complete independently for homework. Use these answers to determine the level of understanding for each individual student in the class.


  1. Were the students able to construct a simple circuit with little or no assistance? Were students able to place the tested items in the pathway of the circuit? Did students use both the items provided in their bags as well as other items in the room?
  2. Were students able to make a clear distinction between insulators and conductors in their discussion question answers? Were their answers accurate? Were students able to explain how the conductors they tested were alike? Were students able to explain how the insulators they tested were alike? Did their answers demonstrate a clear understanding of these terms?


  1. Have students create a Venn Diagram displaying the results from their experiments.


  1. How did I do?
  2. Were my instructions and expectations clearly stated?
  3. Did the students enjoy the task?
  4. Did the activity deepen their understanding of insulators and conductors?

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