This activity is part survival education, part science experiment, and can be a whole lot of fun for the kids. Start by gathering several small handheld mirrors, such as the type of vanity mirrors that come in make-up pouches. (Supervise children closely if using glass mirrors or other glass objects.) Next gather an assortment of other potentially reflective objects, such as glass bottles in assorted colors, aluminum foil, metal pieces, (so long as they’re free of sharp or jagged edges), a plastic bike reflector, and perhaps a few non-reflective objects.
On a sunny day, grab these items and head outside. Have children work in teams, with one child going to the other side of the yard (or around 30 feet away) with one object, while his partner stays put with another. Have them experiment with trying to catch the sun to flash each other by manipulating the objects in different ways. Done correctly, it should create a quick, high intensity burst of light, almost like a strobe light. If either partner sees the flash, he is to shout to the other.
After this experiment, discuss what seemed to bring about the best results, and ask the kids why they think that is the case. Explain that if they were ever lost in the wilderness they could use this technique to try and signal aircraft or other potential rescuers.