Earth and Space

How long is a day?

Classroom Activity for 5-11 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

How the length of the day varies over the year.

To bring to children's attention to the variation in the length of daylight over the year in a systematic way, and to link this to their everyday activities.

What to Prepare

  • A suitable frame on which to record the data

What Happens During this Activity

A class chart can be made which is completed on the first day of every term/half term, recording what time the Sun rose and set.

Each time this is filled in, using the local times of sunrise and sunset (the Internet, local papers, smart watches, phones etc, are all sources for these times).

The children can then answer the simple questions on the chart:

Teacher: Is it light or dark when you get up in the morning?

Teacher: Is it light or dark when you have your tea?

Teacher: Is it light or dark when you go to bed?

This links the variation of the length of day to their lived-in world, as a rich resource for discussion focusing on the fact that the length of the day varies throughout the year.

You could link this to the weather, which can be recorded and discussed in numerous ways – it is a British pastime! BUt we'd suggest leaving it at noticing patterns, and not to try and explain the seasonal variations.

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