Objective: Using a sundial, the children will explore the Sun as a source of light causing shadows and will learn that the Sun travels, causing shadows to change.
Note: This lesson will require taking the children outside several times throughout the day. It is important to stand in exactly the same spot when you draw the shadows, so your record is reliable.
Shadows are created by the Sun or another light source shining on an object. Any object that can block light will create a shadow. A good example is your body. Since light cannot pass through your body, your body creates a dark area where it blocks the sunlight. The patch where the light cannot reach is called a “shadow.” Shadows change in length over the course of the day. Longer shadows are cast early in the morning and late in the afternoon. The shortest shadow is at noon when the Sun is directly overhead. Because the Earth is moving, the Sun, which is the source of light, is in a continually changing position in the sky, creating the change in shadows.
A long time ago, people began to notice how much of the day was over by looking at their shadows. Eventually, this led to the invention of the sundial. A simple sundial is a stick, or “gnomon,” set in the center of a round, flat surface that stays in the same place during the course of the day. The sundial works by casting a shadow from the gnomon in different positions at different times of the day.
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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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.
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