Unit Overview

Sunshine and Shadows allows students to explore shadows. Students will observe how shadows form, how light effects objects, and how shadows change throughout the day. Through the use of the skills of observing, communicating, and manipulating, students will investigate the properties of shadows.


This unit may take from two to four weeks to complete depending upon the goals of the teacher and interests of the students. Use of the section included in this manual called More Ideas may extend the time span of this kit.

Materials to be obtained locally:

Please make one student activity book for each student. (Please see PDF)

chart paper

felt tip markers

cup with handle

white butcher paper





colored chalk

large piece of cardboard


metric ruler


Objects around classroom (blocks, scissors, play animals, cars, etc)


Remind students to wash their hands after handling any of the materials in the kit. Small objects should be handled with care.

About the Format

Each learning experience is numbered and titled. Under each title is the objective for the learning experience.

Each learning experience page has two parts. The first part lists materials, preparations, basic skill processes, evaluation strategy, and vocabulary. The evaluation strategy is for the teacher to use when judging the student’s understanding of the learning experience.

The second part begins with a “Focus Question” which is typed in italicized print. The purpose of the “Focus Question” is to guide the teacher’s instruction toward the main idea of the learning experience. The “Focus Question” is not to be answered by the students. The learning experience includes direction for students, illustrations, and discussion questions. These discussion questions can be used as a basis for class interaction.

Background Information


A shadow occurs when a light source is blocked. Opaque materials create dark shadows because light cannot pass through an opaque object. Opaque materials can absorb and reflect light. Aluminum foil, cardboard, and metal are all examples of opaque objects.

Translucent materials make shadows as well. However, translucent materials make lighter, less solid-looking shadows because only some of the light is blocked. Examples of translucent materials are waxed paper, tissue paper, and frosted glass. Light is scattered through these objects so images cannot be clearly seen through them.

Transparent objects allow light to pass through them. A clear window pane, cellophane, and plastic wrap are all examples of transparent material. Transparent materials create very light shadows because most of the light is not blocked.


An imaginary line or axis runs through the Earth from the North Pole to the South Pole. The Earth rotates on this axis. It takes about 24 hours for the Earth to make one complete rotation. This rotation causes day and night. When the Earth is rotating, the part of the Earth that receives light from the sun is experiencing daytime. However, as that same part of the Earth rotates away from the sun it experiences nighttime. The sun appears to move in the sky, however, the sun is stationary. It is the Earth’s rotation that causes the sun to rise and set. As the Earth rotates, the position of the light hitting objects during different times of day changes. Therefore shadows of objects change position throughout the day.

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