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Explore and Play: Shadow Art

Create art by coloring shadows.


  • several desk lamps
  • paper
  • art supplies such as pens, markers, colored pencils, and/or crayons

Key Science Concepts

  • A shadow is made when an object blocks the light.
  • ​A shadow shows the shape of an object, but it doesn’t show colors or many other details.


Tell children that they are going to make art from shadows, like the children in this morning’s video.

  1. Have children work in pairs. Have them position themselves so that they can put their hands under a lamp and cast shadows on the paper.
  2. Ask them to think of shadow shapes they can make using one or both of their hands.
  3. Have one child make a shadow shape using his or her hands while the other child traces the shadow onto a piece of paper. Then have them switch roles and repeat the process.
  4. Encourage children to use the art supplies to decorate their shadow tracings.  What can they create from their shadow tracing—an animal, a flower?    
  5. Have children share their shadow art with the group. Ask,
    • What did you create out of the outline of your shadow? Why did you decide to draw what you did?
    • What does a shadow show? What doesn’t it show? What did you need to add to it to make it a bunny/peacock/flower?

Display the shadow art creations in the Art Center. Encourage children to create other shadow art during learning center time.