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Explore and Play: Indoor Shadows

Make shadows with a lamp. 


  • desk lamp with a 100-watt bulb (or a slide projector)
  • flat blank wall, projector screen, or other surface to project shadows onto
  • multiple small everyday objects you can use to create shadows

Key Science Concepts

  • A shadow is created by an object blocking the light.
  • You can make shadows with your body and other objects.


Tell children they are going to explore shadows indoors.

  1. Dim the lights and gather children around the lamp. Point out the different parts of the lamp to children: the bulb, the cord, the plug, and the on/off switch.
  2. Have a volunteer stand between the lamp and the wall. Ask, What do you predict will happen when I turn the lamp on?  Then have the whole group say, “lights, camera, action!” as you turn on the lamp.
  3. Have children explain whether or not their predictions were correct. Ask, How do you think you can see a shadow indoors, where there is no sun?
  4. Then ask, What do you predict will happen if I turn off the lamp? Do this and see if the children’s predictions are correct.
  5. Turn on the lamp again and have each child pick a small object to make a shadow with. Encourage them to make predictions about what their object’s shadow will look like.
  6. Have children trade objects with each other and compare the different shadows they make.

Tell children they will have lots of opportunities to play with shadows made with lamps during learning center time.