Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Flick a Switch: How Electricity Gets to Your Home


You flick a switch to turn on a light or to turn on your computer.  You know electricity makes it happen; but, where does the electricity come from?  The path electricity takes from the power plant to homes and businesses is described in Flick a Switch:  How Electricity Gets to Your Home by Barbara Seuling with illustrations by Nancy Tobin.  This book uses straight-forward language and bright, kid-friendly drawings to help children understand the science and technology behind generating electricity.   Simple activities that use everyday items to demonstrate electrical circuits are included.

Curriculum Connections
Flick a Switch will help lower elementary students picture how electricity travels from power plants to their homes.  Fourth and fifth grade physical science lessons can incorporate this book into electricity units about conductors, insulators, electromagnetism, and historical figures who contributed to our understanding and use of electrical power (VA SOL 4.3).

Additional Resources

  • Benjamin Franklin took a huge risk when he experimented with lightning.  You want your students to play it safe.  Find a list of electrical safety tips for children at the back of the book Wired by Anatasia Suen or online at Power Kids.
  • When you hear the name Thomas Edison you think light bulb.  When you hear Ben Franklin you think electricity.  But what do you think when you hear Michael Faraday?  Learn more about Faraday, whose work with electromagnetism made the generators in power plants possible.
  • Watch a video that uses a lemon as a “battery” and children holding hands as “wire” to demonstrate conductors and circuits.

BookFlick a Switch:  How Electricity Gets to Your Home
Author:  Barbara Seuling
Illustrator:  Nancy Tobin
Publisher:  Holiday House Inc.
Publication Date:  September 2003
Pages:  32
Grade Range:  1 – 5
ISBN-13:  9780823417292

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