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Explore and Play: Changing Shadow Shapes

How many shadow shapes can you make with one object?


  • desk lamp with a 100-watt bulb (or a slide projector)
  • flat blank wall, projector screen, or other surface to project shadows onto
  • paper plates

Key Science Concepts

  • 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.


Tell children that they will be making as many shadows as they can using a paper plate.

  1. Give each child a paper plate and ask them to hold it in front of the lamp and make a shadow with it. Then ask,
    • Describe the plate’s shadow. What does it look like?
    • What size is the plate’s shadow? What shape is it?
    • Then ask, How can you change the shadow that the plate is making?
  1. Encourage children to make as many different-shaped shadows as they can using their paper plate.

Write down how many different shapes children made—large, small, horizontal, vertical, wide, narrow, angled, etc.