Shadows are a fun subject for young children. Understanding how shadows and reflections work translates to a greater understanding of other subjects ranging from art to science.
Try these activities to teach your child about shadows:
Use a small reading light to project shadows up on the wall. Make different shapes and talk about how moving closer to the light makes shadows look bigger because it blocks out more of the light.
Use a variety of translucent, transparent and opaque objects such as color paddles, jars of colored water, plastic containers and toys. Shine the light through these objects. Discuss how some objects let light pass through and some do not. You can also use the colored water or color paddles to teach about mixing color.
Starting early in the morning on a sunny day, take your child outside each hour to trace his or her shadow with sidewalk chalk. Write the time beside each shadow to make an interesting sundial. Note how the shape of the shadow changes throughout the day as the position of the earth changes.
Discuss how night time is a shadow and demonstrate with a flashlight and globe or ball.
Do a subject search at your local library for children’s books with a shadow theme. There are a surprising number of books available for kids about or related to shadows and reflections.
Create a shadow puppet theater show with your child.
Point out shadows and reflections during daily activities. Note how shadows go in the opposite direction of the light source. Show your child how if he or she is facing the sun, the shadow trails behind. Look at how long the shadows are at different times of day.
Project your child’s profile onto a large sheet of paper and trace it. Let your child decorate his or her profile.
Take a pad of newsprint with you on a walk and trace the shadows of trees, leaves, plants and anything else that will stand still long enough.