Learning Experience 2: Create Shadows



For each pair of students:


2 batteries

For the class:

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

Cup with handle (ex. mug)*

Felt-tip markers*

White butcher paper*


*provided by teacher


Read background information in Sunshine and Shadows: Teacher’s Guide Unit Overview and Background Information.

Basic Skills Development:




Evaluation Strategy:

Students will describe how shadows are created and how the direction of the light source effects the shadow’s direction.





Objective: Students will create shadows in the classroom and describe how they are created.

What is a shadow?

Turn the overhead lights off in the classroom and turn on one light source. A flashlight has been provided, however, the light from an overhead, small halogen light, or sensor light could also be used. Ask students to notice if they see any shadows around the classroom. Place an object in front of the light. Ask student to notice the shadow of the object. Students should notice that a shadow will occur if there is an object blocking the light.

Give student pairs flashlights and other objects for them to experiment with. For example blocks, scissors, play animals, cars, etc. Encourage students to make shadows by moving the flashlight around the object and making an arc over the object. They will discover the answers to the discussion questions.

Ask a student to hold the cup with a handle in front of the light. Have the rest of the class observe the shadow of the cup as the student stands in front of the light then walks toward and away from the light. Ask students to describe the size of the shadow in relation to distance from the light. Students should observe the shadow get larger the closer to the light the object is and smaller the farther away the object is from the light source.

Discussion Questions:

How is a shadow created?

Is it easier to see a shadow in the classroom with the lights on or off? Why?

Does a shadow move when the object that creates the shadow moves?

How can a shadow change in size?

Does the shadow move as the flashlight moves?

Does the shape of the shadow change?

Instead of using just one light source, shine multiple light sources on the cup or another object. Ask students to count the number of shadows they see. Students should observe that each light source shining on an object creates a shadow. Place an object in the center of a large piece of white paper. Shine a light on the object at different angles. Use a felt-tip marker to mark the direction of each shadow that appears.

Discussion Questions:

Can an object have more than one shadow? When?

What position is the light source compared to the position of the shadow?

Get the other students in class involved with the shadow playing by shining an overhead projector against a bare wall or screen. While saying the rhyme below, invite students to create shadows on the wall as they perform the actions. Turn the projector off during the last line of the rhyme.

Shadow Rhyme

One, two, three. What can it be? Hold up fingers in sequence.

There’s a dark shadow following me! Point behind you.

Four, five, six. It can play tricks! Hold up fingers in sequence.

It runs and jumps and even kicks. Run, jump, and kick in place.

Seven, eight, nine. Is that shadow mine, Hold up fingers in sequence.

Playing with me in the bright sunshine? Make a circle with arms over head.

I’m up to ten. Shadow’s gone! But then— Hold up ten fingers.

That’s what shadows do when the sun goes in! Wave good-bye.

On a sunny day, take your students outside. Encourage them to move to the song as they watch their shadow.

Sung to the tune of “Did You Ever See A Lassie?”

Did you ever see a shadow, a shadow, a shadow,

Did you ever see a shadow [jump up and down]?

[Jump] this way and that way, and that way and this way?

Did you ever see a shadow [jump up and down]?

Create additional verses by substituting actions – ex. Twirl all around, hop on one foot, flap both arms, wave both hands.

I Wish I Were Your Shadow (sung to the tune of the Oscar Meyer Wiener theme song)

Oh, I wish I were your shadow on the sidewalk.

I’d come to play with you each sunny day.

I’d run and jump and skip whenever you did.

Then when the sun was gone, I’d go away!


Discussion Questions:

How can you shake shadow hands?

How can you make your shadow finger touch a spot on the ground, wall, or tree?

Have students make a circle with their shadow arms and try to encircle a stone or spot on the ground. In teams of three, have students make a 6-legged or 6-armed figure with their shadows. In teams of five, have students stand on each other’s shadow shoulders.

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