Sunny summer days are a great time to experiment with shadows. I’ve put together a fun list of shadow activity ideas with ( hopefully ) something to appeal to kids of all ages.
What is a shadow?
For a shadow to be formed an object must block light. The object must be opaque or translucent to make a shadow. A transparent object will not make any shadow, as light passes straight through transparent objects.
Transparent materials let light pass through them in straight lines, so that you can see clearly through them.
Translucent materials let some light through, but scatter the light in different directions. We can not see clearly through translucent materials.
Opaque materials do not let any light pass through them.
Shadow Experiments for Kids
Make a shadow frame using cardboard and contact paper. This is great for experimenting with different shapes and types of materials. Try translucent and opaque materials to investigate how the colour of the shadow changes.
Use building blocks to make shapes you can draw around. How does the shadow change if you rotate the block? Is the shadow different at different times of day?
Can you make some 3D shapes shadows to draw?
We love this use of colour blocks for shadows from Stimulating Learning and this huge version from Play at Home Mom LLC.
Rhythms of Play painted inside their shadows and they look amazing!
This human sundial experiment is a great idea too. You could use the same idea to make a smaller version using a LEGO tower on white paper.
Another idea similar to making a sundial is to follow a shadow through the day watching how the size and shape of a shadow formed the same object changes!
Shadow Puppet Theatre
Build a shadow puppet theatre like Inner Child Fun, this would be great for linking shadows to literacy work.
Shadow Experiments – Shadow People
Try building people or animals with pipe cleaners, it was quite a challenge to get ours to stand up. Can you make one shadow twice as tall as another?
Shadow Experiments – Shadow Sculptures
The Artful Parent has some brilliant shadow sculptures, it could be quite fun to use the same idea but make chemical structures and draw the shadows too.
Childhood 101 has some brilliant Star Wars shadow puppets.
We love these Gruffalo’s Child shadow puppets too.
You could also try some Christmas or other holiday themed shadow puppets. We made a big Christmas tree shadow puppet and then smaller puppets for the decorations.
More Shadow Experiments
Can you experiment with shadows at different times of day? You should find that the Sun makes the longest shadows at the beginning and end of the day, when the Sun is lowest in the sky and the shortest shadows at midday, when it’s highest in the sky.
Suitable for Early Years Foundation Stage
Suitable for Key Stage 2 Science
Can you think of any more shadow activities for us?
Last Updated on August 11, 2022 by Emma Vanstone