What If...

All your clothes were shiny?

What if all your clothes were shiny?

Classroom view

Activity overview

15 mins
Ages 5 – 7

Science topics:


Get your class thinking and talking with this fun question! Having a broad question means you'll get a wide range of ideas coming from your pupils.

Run the activity

1. In pairs, discuss what might be a Plus, Minus and Interesting way to think about the question. Stuck for ideas? They could think about:

  • Why would it be a problem to have shiny clothes
  • What other properties do shiny materials have? How might this help or hinder having shiny clothes   
  • Would there be any benefits to having shiny clothes

2. Ask the children to share their partner's ideas then encourage a broader discussion as a class, remember there is no wrong or right answer!

Background science

Think about the clothes you’re wearing now – what are the properties? The best materials for everyday clothes allow the wearer to feel comfortable and move freely while keeping them warm or cool, depending on the season.

There are occasions when clothes do need to be shiny, or reflective. Clothes designed for cycling, walking or running commonly feature reflective strips to make the wearer more visible to drivers of cars. These strips may have tiny glass beads or plastic prisms embedded in them so that light reflects off them really well, like mirrors. Fluorescent colours look very bright because of the way that they absorb and emit different kinds of light.

Take it further

Can the children think of other items of clothing that are shiny? What are these made from? Challenge the children to think about the suitability of materials for a very specific purpose. Think more about objects that keep us safe while riding our bikes or walking home in the dark. Children could explore which materials are reflective and design a coat for cycling or walking home in winter. Children could look for reflective stripes on their own clothing and shoes and think about how these help them. They could shine a torch at different materials in a darkened space and decide which one is easiest to see.

Image credit: Saulich Elena via Shutterstock SL