Review: Wires and Watts is an exceptional how-to book that encourages exploration of electricity and suggests numerous projects. We know several teachers who have adapted activities from this book to help students pursue their own investigations.
Other Information: Wires and Watts: Understanding and Using Electricity is out-of-print but well worth searching for at your local library or online book seller.
Batteries & Bulbs is a classic unit for teaching students about electrical circuits. It first appeared as a unit in the Elementary Science Study (ESS) curriculum. This adaptation of the unit is closely aligned with the vision of science teaching espoused in the National Science Education Standards. You'll see that the unit responds to individual student experiences, focuses on student knowledge and its application, includes students being involved in extended inquiry, involves continual assessment of student understanding, and it's fun!
Circuit City is an interdisciplinary unit based on electricity concepts that has been very successful in my self-contained fourth grade classroom. We began the unit with basic circuit building and progressed to wiring a cardboard house. In between, the students worked on activities in language arts, math, writing, literature, and social studies.
The activity described here is an extension of Batteries and Bulbs that works very well for teachers and students who have already explored basic electrical circuits. In our district, we have used the activity with 4th graders after several lessons on batteries and bulbs.