Family walks, no matter where (around the block, in a park, at the beach), provide wonderful opportunities to explore the mysteries of light and shadows. Your child can learn a lot—like how to make shadows bigger and smaller and how shadows move. Enjoy the walk and the fun of observing shadows and how they change as you move about outdoors.

  • Notice the shadows of the things around you—cars, a dog or cat, a bird flying from tree to tree.
  • Observe the way your shadows "walk” along with you, and play with the shadows!
  • Make different types of shadows by moving your arms or legs or jumping about.
  • Use chalk to outline your shadow and your child’s shadow. Come back later in the day to check on your shadows. In what ways are they the same or different?
  • Measure the lengths of your shadows using pieces of yarn or string or with a tape measure. Measure the shadows of other objects too, like a parked car, trees, the mailbox, or anything else that casts a shadow. Ask questions or make comments that help your child think:
    • I wonder what will happen to your shadow if you step forward or back?
    • What might happen if we stand close together?
    • Where is the sun in the sky right now? (Ask this at several times of the day.)
    • What happens to shadows on a cloudy day?
  • Explore, observe, and enjoy doing and learning about science together!

 


Source: Adapted from the Message in a Backpack for W.C. Ritz, 2011/2012, "Me and My Shadows," Teaching Young Children 5 (2): 22–25.

© National Association for the Education of Young Children — Promoting excellence in early childhood education