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Indoor Shadow Shapes

Move and turn an object to make different shadow shapes.


  • desk lamp with a 100-watt bulb (or a slide projector)
  • flat blank wall, projector screen, or other surface to project shadows onto
  • multiple objects that look different from different angles (book, ruler, comb, pencil, bottle, mug, hair elastic, paper plate, etc.)
  • camera

Key Science Concepts

  • You can make shadows with your body and other objects.
  • You can change the shape of a shadow by moving and turning your body or the object making the shadow or by moving the light source.


Encourage children to use vocabulary related to shadows, like light, outline, position, rotate, turn, move, and direction. Emphasize science process words like describe, compare, observe, notice, and predict.


Explain to children that they are going to make as many different-shaped shadows as they can using only one object.

  1. Have each child choose an object and hold it in front of the lamp. Ask children to make predictions about what their object’s shadow will look like.
  2. Dim the lights and turn on the lamp. Were their predictions correct?
  3. Now ask children to change the shape of their objects’ shadows. Ask,
    • How many different shadow shapes can you make using only one object?
    • How can you change the shape of your object’s shadow?
  1. Take photos of the shadows the children create—you’ll use these later during the Closing Circle.

Reflect and Share

Gather children to discuss how they were able to change the shape of their objects’ shadows. Ask,

  • How could one object make so many different shadows?
  • What did you do to change the shape of your object’s shadow?
  • How are the shadows you made similar to the ones you’ve made outside? How are they different?

Write children’s responses on the chart you started last week, “How a Shadow Changes.” Use children’s descriptions of their shadows to create captions for the photos you took during the activity. Place the photos with their captions in the Shadow Museum for children to look at later.