Perception & Illusion 2: Afterimages

Can I see something that isn’t real?

Project page



7-8 8-9 9-10 10-11


Identity and diversity


Lesson plan


60 minutes

This activity-rich lesson programme introduces children aged 7–11 to visual effects called ‘afterimages’, a type of optical illusion that can occur if we stare at an image for a long time.

Through illusions, photography and discussions about how perspective can be ‘forced’ and shaped, pupils will explore how our brains use our environment to understand what we’re seeing. With this lesson plan, they can also create their own scientific investigations to explore how and why afterimages occur.

Developed for Dreamachine by A New Direction with the British Science Association, this 10-page lesson plan is one of three ‘Perception & Illusion’ resources for pupils aged 7–11. It includes prompts for questions and discussions, plus links and resources for further learning.

Lesson plan

Curriculum links

Science: Working Scientifically
Key Stage: KS2

Northern Ireland:
The World Around Us: Interdependence
Key Stages: KS1, KS2

Sciences: Experiences, Outcomes
Levels: First Level, Second Level

Science & Technology: Principles of Progression, What Matters
Progression Steps: PS2, PS3