Theme: All About Me

My Shadow and Me


Objective: Children will explore their shadows and observe how shadows change throughout the day.

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What You Will Need

  • Chalk and a sunny day (or a flashlight or lamp)

What To Do

Note: This lesson is divided into two parts to take place during the same day.

Part 1

  1. Take children outside on a sunny day to a large area with a flat surface, like the playground.
  2. Encourage the children to spread out and look at the ground near their feet. What do they see?
  3. When someone mentions their shadow, encourage other children to notice their shadows as well. Trace around children’s feet and then their entire shadow.
  4. Label the traced shadows with each child’s name.
  5. While tracing the shadows, encourage students to participate in a discussion about shadows (see Did You Know).

Part 2

  1. Allow 2 or more hours to pass and tell the children they will be going back outside to check their shadow tracings.
  2. Take the children outside and have them locate their shadow tracing and stand inside the outline of their feet.
  3. What do they notice? Is their shadow somewhere different now? What do children think happened to make their shadows move? Is the Sun somewhere different than it was earlier?
  4. If desired, this experiment may be repeated several times in one day to observe the progression of the shadows.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Tell me what happens to your shadow when you move.
  • What happens when you try to touch your shadow’s head? What about your shadow’s feet?
  • Describe how to make your shadow move.
  • Explain how you can make your shadow bigger/smaller or longer/shorter?
  • Describe how to make your shadow disappear.
  • Explain how shadows are created.
  • Describe how your shadow changed.

Explore, Extend and Integrate

  • Each day, during calendar and weather time, invite the children to observe the weather and predict if they will see shadows.
  • Turn out the lights and walk around the classroom with a flashlight. Encourage the children to observe what happens to the shadows in the room. Do the shadows react the same way they did outside? Connect the concept of the moving flashlight to the moving Sun. Make flashlights available in the science center and chalk available during outside play.
  • Search for other shadows on the playground. Children can be encouraged to trace the shadows of trees, equipment, etc. Try going outside to look for shadows on a cloudy day. Can children see their shadows like they could on the sunny day?

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Was each child able to locate his or her own shadow?
  • Could children observe and explain the changes in the shadows as the day passed and the position of the Sun changed?
  • Do children understand that light is needed to make a shadow?

Did You Know?

Shadows appear when an object blocks light. The object must be opaque (not allowing light to pass through). The shadow appears on the side of the object furthest from the light source. Opaque (not clear) objects make dark shadows. Translucent (partially clear) objects make lighter shadows because they do not block the light source completely. Transparent objects do not make shadows because they are clear and light passes through them.

Learn More »


Vocabulary

  • shadow
  • long
  • short
  • disappear
  • trace
  • outline

Child-Friendly Definitions »


Common Core State
Standards Initiative

These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge.**

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Did You Know?

Shadows appear when an object blocks light. The object must be opaque (not allowing light to pass through). The shadow appears on the side of the object furthest from the light source. Opaque (not clear) objects make dark shadows. Translucent (partially clear) objects make lighter shadows because they do not block the light source completely. Transparent objects do not make shadows because they are clear and light passes through them.

Shadows created by the Sun are affected by the rotation of the Earth. Early in the day, when the Sun is lowest in the sky, shadows are very long. In the middle of the day, when the Sun is high overhead, shadows are very short. Shadows can seem to “move” throughout the day as the Earth rotates and affects the position of the Sun. Shadows get bigger when the light source is moved closer to the object. Shadows get smaller when the light source is moved further from an object.

Vocabulary

  • shadow — the dark image on a surface caused by something that blocks light from the Sun.
  • long — covering a great distance or time.
  • short — not long in size or time.
  • disappear — to no longer be seen.
  • trace — to copy by following the lines of something as seen on a surface.
  • outline — a line showing the outside edge of a figure or object.

 

Lesson Tips

- Use chunky sidewalk chalk rather than classroom chalk. The sidewalk chalk will last longer and is easier for the children to hold if they want to help trace the shadows.

- If the day that you choose for this activity turns out to be a day without sunshine, do not give up! Begin the lesson, go outdoors and search for shadows. Can the children work through the problem and hypothesize why there are no shadows? Can they think of other ways that they could create shadows (inside or outside)?

- Shadows can be created in the classroom using a lamp without the shade or a flashlight. Children can trace the shadows onto construction paper using chalk or white crayons.

 

Books

- Moonbear’s Shadow by Frank Asch

- Nothing Sticks Like a Shadow by Ann Tompert

- Shadow by Suzy Lee

- Shadows and Reflections by Tana Hoban

- Lights, Shadows, Mirrors, and Rainbows by Natalie M. Rosinsky

 

 

Important Legal Disclosures and Information

*While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed. 

**There are currently no Common Core Standards for pre-k, but these lessons are aligned as closely as possible to capture the requirements and meet the goals of Common Core Standards. However, these lessons were neither reviewed or approved by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices or the Council of Chief State School Officers, which together are the owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.