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All Sorts of Shadows

Shine a flashlight from different positions to make different shadows.


  • flashlights, one per pair (or one per child, if you have enough to go around)
  • multiple objects to make shadows with
  • camera

Key Science Concepts

  • As you move a light source around an object, the object's shadow moves and its length and shape may change.            


Encourage children to use words like flashlight, shine, outline, position, shape, rotate, turn, move, direction, above, behind, and next to. Emphasize science process words like describe, compare, observe, and notice.


Tell children that they are going to change an object’s shadow without moving the object.

  1. Divide children into pairs (if you have enough flashlights for everyone, have children work individually). Pass out the flashlights and have each child choose an object to use to make a shadow.
  2. Dim the lights and have one child shine the flashlight on the object. Have children observe and describe the shadow they see. Then ask, How could you change the way this shadow looks without moving your object?
  3. If children are uncertain what to do, invite them to try moving their flashlight around their object. Ask,
    • What happens when you move your flashlight?
    • What happens when you hold your flashlight directly above your object? Where does the shadow go?
    • How can you create the longest shadow without moving or touching your object? The shortest shadow?
  1. Then have the pair of children switch roles, having the partner shine the flashlight on an object.
  2. Take photos of the shadows that the children make during this activity to display later in the Shadow Museum.

Reflect and Share

Gather children to discuss how they were able to change their shadows. Ask,

  • How did you change your object’s shadow using only your flashlight? What changes were you able to make?
  • Did the changes you saw in your object’s shadows remind you of any changing shadows we saw outside last week? How? What was the same about how these shadows changed? What was different?

Add any new ideas to the “How a Shadow Changes” chart.