Objective:  Children will discover how shadows are made.  (These ideas are great for Groundhog Day or any sunny day.)


  • Find pictures of shadows and sundials.
  • Sidewalk chalk.
  • Lamp or flashlight. 
  • Sundial– if you can find one or make one.
  • Card stock and Popsicle sticks for shadow puppets.
  • Suggested book:  What Makes a Shadow? by Clyde Robert Bulla

Lesson: Begin the lesson outside (weather permitting).

  • Trace the shadows of the children (or partner them up and have them take turns tracing their partner’s shadow) with sidewalk chalk. Ask children to describe their shadows. How is your shadow like you? How is it different? (Compare shadows at the end of the class or lesson to the chalk outline.)
  • Find other interesting shadows to trace with chalk. Trees, playground equipment, and toys have interesting shadows.

Discussion:   (You may want to go inside for this part.)
Read the book and discuss shadows.

  • A shadow happens when an object (or a person) gets between the Sun or some other light and the surface of the Earth. 
  • Before we had clocks people used shadows to tell time. The sundial is the oldest known scientific instrument. It is based on the fact that the shadow of an object will move from one side of the object to the other as the sun “moves” from east to west during the day.
  • Use your hands and the lamp to make shadows on the wall. Make shadows that look like a flapping bird, quacking duck or running spider. What shadow shapes can you make with your hands? You can also place other objects in front of the light to create strange shadows.  Have the kids try to guess what the object is. Use opaque and transparent objects to observe that light can be blocked and describe the resulting shadows. Move the objects closer to the light and then farther away from the light to demonstrate  How the distance from the light change the shape of the shadow.


  • Make shadow puppets: children can put on a shadow play.  Cut out figures from card stock paper and glue them to a Popsicle stick to make puppets.  Use these as shadow puppets.  Make up a story to go along with your shadow creations.
  • Play a game of shadow tag: Take children outside to an unobstructed area. Select one child to be it. The remaining children run around, trying to stay as far away as the child who is it as they can. The child who is it tries to step on the shadows of the players. When it steps on a players shadow, the player is out of the game. The game continues until the child who is it has stepped on all the shadows of his opponents.

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