One of the best ways for children to learn is though play and exploration, using as many senses as possible. When children are able to manipulate items and see the results of their actions, their understanding is greater, and their ability to fully grasp a concept is better.
Play is a wonderful way to introduce abstract concepts such as light and shadows. Below is a drawing activity that allows children to explore how shadows are created. All you will need are markers, paper and a few favorite toys. This activity fun to do outside but can be done inside using a light source such as a lamp.
- Find a flat place to lay out some paper.
- Place toys at the edge of the paper, with their shadow falling onto the paper.
- Trace the shadows with markers.
- After you have finished tracing the shadows, pick up the paper and look at the shapes you’ve created. If you would like, you can stop here, color in your shapes and talk about light and shadows. A more advanced option is to label the shadows with the time, and repeat these steps later. You can then observe how the shadows have changed as the sun moved. (If you are doing this activity inside, shift the lamp a tiny bit.)
Talk to your kiddos about how the toys are blocking the light from reaching the paper, thus casting shadows. You can ask if anything else is casting a shadow and discuss how our bodies can make shadows, and those shadows move when we do.
If you would like to learn more about light and shadows, or would like to read a story about others learning about shadows, check out my “Shadows” book list.