We recently saw the lighthouse in Chatham, Cape Cod in action. We sat down on the beach together at night, and watched as the lighthouse sent its beams of light into the darkness, letting those at sea know land was near.
The next day we were still talking about the lighthouse, so we used pretend play to demonstrate how lighthouses work. I marked an area as the land, and my 4 year old and my 13 year old nephew took turns acting as the lighthouse. They stood in one place on the edge of the “land,” held the flashlight, and turned around. The rest of us were the “ships.” The ships “sailed” toward the land, saying some variation of ” It is a dark and stormy night. We don’t want to hit the rocks. Oh look! There’s the lighthouse. Thank you for keeping me safe, lighthouse.”
Next, they worked to build a lighthouse and some ships out of Legos. We enjoyed the pretend play so much we decided to go back and watch the lighthouse at work again that night.