Creating & Playing with Shadows

Exploring through light, reflection and shadows to discover how they move and form.

Harry drawing dinosaur shadows in the garden.
Harry drawing dinosaur shadows in the garden.

Exploring Light

When we first began exploring the Light, Shadows and Reflections topic we enjoyed a sunny afternoon in the garden drawing the shadows of toys. This was a great introduction to light and shadows as we had to position the toys and ourselves carefully so our bodies did not block the sun. By the time we finished we could see the shadows made by the toys had already changed shape and position from the first ones we outlined.

For me, this is hands-on learning at its best, providing opportunities for children to learn through their own experiences. Not only did we have fun spending time together but Harry and Teddy could clearly see how shadows were created and how the position of the sun affected their shape, size and position.

The boys creating shadow puppets.
Creating Shadow Puppets

A Visual Perspective

Creating shadow puppets was another fantastic creative activity! Not only did my boys discover how to block light to create a shadow, they also engaged their imaginations. Together, they developed a short story about an elephant marching through the jungle. Teddy even used his ukulele, which usually sits in the corner collecting dust, to create some background music.

Teddy took the measurement using a ruler, whilst Harry recorded this on the activity sheet. In this way the boys worked together.

I do not believe learning should be confined or restricted and love the way this activity took shape. Including a musical element was not initiated by me but inspired by Teddy. In this way he was able to take ownership of the activity and his own learning.

Making a simple sundial.
Science Skills - Making a Simple Sundial

Although we found ways to incorporate creativity and art within our activities, the subject of Light is primarily science based. Developing skills in this area involves taking and recording measurements, making predictions and conclusions. As in the picture above the boys could passively see the shadow change while they were playing in the garden. They would mark on the paper to first discover which direction the shadow would move in and then try to estimate how long it would take the shadow to move around the pencil.

Working with children of different ages and abilities, it is important to me they are both included. When measuring shadow size for example, Teddy took the measurement using a ruler, whilst Harry recorded this on the activity sheet. In this way the boys worked together.

Shining light on coloured water.
Shining light on coloured water.

Mirror & Light Games

I like to take a playful approach towards our activities and we have fun finding ways to play whilst we learn. Firstly, I had the boys try to read a simple sentence while looking in a mirror. They were baffled at how odd the letters looked and it took them a while to work out that they appeared backwards in the mirror. We then played 'I Spy', but using mirrors to spot items behind us instead of looking in front of us. This proved as entertaining as reading words through a mirror and equally as funny.

One of Harry's favourite activities in the topic was trying to do a Mirror Maze from our Light, Shadows & Reflections free Lower Key Stage 2 topic. While they both love mazes and often whizz through them, it proved more challenging when they could only complete the maze whilst looking through the reflection of a mirror.

A larger than life dinosaur shadow.
Drawing a reflection picture.

We hope you as much fun exploring this topic as we did. Light, Shadows & Reflections is the 3rd completely free topic I have now created for this exciting educational project I began just over two years ago. Thank you for coming on this journey with me and I hope your family or classroom find enjoyment through Hands-On Education's activities.

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